People have tried to learn all the secrets of their being since prehistoric times. They accumulated knowledge which has been regarded as the most precious treasure in the world. Unfortunately, education which is the major source of knowledge was (and still is) unavailable for many individuals.
Moreover, a lot of people do not understand the power of education and remain in the darkness of ignorance. Fortunately, nowadays the majority of people know that education is something bigger than a set of certain data necessary for fulfillment of some task. Education leads to individual’s liberation since it opens up new horizons and makes people think, create and develop in relation between these two essays, “Learning to Read and Write” by Frederick Douglass and “Graduation” by Maya Angelou. Education reveals the power of knowledge which enables people to free their minds and reach their aims.
For instance, knowledge set a slave free or kept a teenager from misery. Admittedly, American society has many illustrations of the power of knowledge. More so, educated people have always known the real power of education.
For example, the famous leader of the abolitionist movement and former slave, Frederick Douglass, noted that his mistress believed that “education and slavery were incompatible with each other” (Douglass 70). To great extent, this assumption makes sense. Masters knew that education was a privilege of superior caste. It goes without saying that slaves could not possibly obtain such privilege. They were anterior caste. Thus, at the time education was for those who enjoyed freedom and wealth, but slaves should only complete their tasks, work hard silently. Slave-holders’ logic presupposed that if slaves could obtain education, their owners would have to work.
Of course, this led to conclusion that education was incompatible with slavery. Slaves were illiterate. They could not read or even write their names properly. Moreover, they could hardly know who they were and how old they were. Their masters tried to keep it that way because literacy did evoke various thoughts and dreams about freedom. Moreover, ability to read and write created loads of opportunities for planning escape. Slaves could learn from newspapers about successful attempts of escape and which was more dangerous could find out more about abolitionist movement and start rioting. Frederick Douglass knew that this movement and even the word was “something they [his owners] wanted me to know very little about” (Douglass 71).
Of course, owners wanted to make their slaves blind workers who were to fulfill definite tasks. Masters did not want their slaves to dream about freedom or know that freedom was possible for people like them. Thus, slaves did not have the access to the treasure which their masters could easily obtain. In the case of Douglass it was essential for him to learn to read and write. However, now it is not enough. Moreover, the ability to read and write is regarded as literacy by many people though it is only the first step to obtaining the greatest treasure. Many young people nowadays do not understand that every fact learnt during the class and every book read makes them closer to the center of the great world of knowledge.
Mike Rose depicted this unwillingness to learn in one of his essays. He depicted the experience of a former “mediocre student and a somnambulant problem solver” who thought he was not “groomed for the classroom” (Rose). It was easier for students to come to conclusion that they were not “groomed” for classroom than to start using their brains. Moreover, they turned into “somnambulant problem solvers” who alienated themselves from the rest of the class. They did not participate in discussions but did their best to stay awake. Such students did not strive for anything better in their life; they were ready for really depressive life they would live. They were waiting for teachers’ inventiveness to make them interested, at least, in something.
It is necessary to point out that education given at school is not that oppressive academic training as many people regard it to be. (It can be true for universities where academic training is really oppressive). Studying at school students can find the path which can be interesting for them. If they are attentive, they will find something which will become their future.
However, many “mediocre” students cannot even imagine what doors can be open with the help of education. They do not understand that knowledge can free their minds and make them see definite aims in their lives and the ways to achieve them. Fortunately, nowadays people have many explicit examples of individuals’ liberation. Thus, Frederick Douglass made a lot of efforts to learn how to read and write.
He felt that this will help him to become free. He was right. His ability to write and to read enabled him to escape.
He learnt a lot of things, he found out about many people and places. He developed his critical thinking and was able to see whether people tried to deceive him or really tried to help. He understood that “seemingly good men” could “use” him by encouraging him to run away and then to give him away to his owners (Douglass). Though he wanted to escape, he understood that first he should find out more and he should learn to write. Douglass was sure that such ability would make his future attempt of escape successful.
Even such little amount of knowledge (those were only the first steps in obtaining the treasure) enabled him to arrange his thoughts, ideas and inclinations in a proper way. In the past he only felt that slavery was wrong and unfair, he could only guess what was necessary to set everyone free. Later he knew what was necessary. His knowledge made him free and enabled him to help many other people.
Education led to his physical liberation. He was not a slave anymore. Fortunately, in the end of the twentieth century there was no need in physical liberation since there was no slavery. However, there have been mental and spiritual slavery of, so to speak, voluntary illiteracy. Thus, Rose revealed a story of spiritual liberation when a teenager opened the door to better life. Basically, the teenager’s teacher helped the boy to open the door, he gave the student “a way to feel special by using” his mind (Rose).
Perhaps, that was the first step in this young man liberation. The teacher showed the beauty of the world of literacy. The teenager felt he was capable of many things.
Rose stated that education “enabled” him “to do things in the world.” He was not afraid of trying something more. He became ready for new accomplishments.
His teacher inspired him to work hard and helped him to enter a college. Eventually, he went to college and even became a teacher. He obtained the treasure and started inspiring other people to use their minds. He also pointed at the door of spiritual liberation. Thus, there are many examples which prove the great power of education. The experience of Frederick Douglass and Mike Rose shows what people can achieve with the help of knowledge.
These examples of physical and spiritual liberation prove that education is a great stimulus and a tool to achieve aims. Moreover, it is essential to share such experiences and make young people know what the world of knowledge can give them. Education gives many opportunities for people. Some use their chance, others waste it.
Unfortunately, now many young people do not feel they need liberation at all. Many of them withdraw into their shelves and do not see anything but the walls of their shells. This approach often leads to very negative outcomes and even to prison or death. On the other hand, those who understand the power of knowledge do their best to widen their outlook. They understand that reading a book they gain certain experience of a person which will definitely be helpful in their future.
They see what mistakes can be made and how they can be prevented. Many people try to know more and every fact learnt fills in the gaps in a mosaic of human being. Education does open up new horizons and makes people think of things they could not even dream of earlier.
Douglass, Frederick. “Learning to Read and Write.” Berkley Digital Library.
Web. 24 February 2011. Rose, Mike. “I Just Wanna Be Average.” Middlesex County College. Web.
24 February 2011.