Growing up, many of us read the book “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington. I am currently reading this book again as it is part of my daughter’s reading material for school. This book is serving as an incredible lesson not only for my daughter, but also for myself.
Without going into too much of a summary of the work, it basically is an autobiographical account of Mr. Washington’s life and his family’s transition from slaves to free men. If you have not read the book or if it has been a while since you have read it, I suggest you add it to your winter reading list!
Anyway, trying to make a quick point here, which I am finding hard to do when I start writing, but the book is serving to be a wonderful reminder as to how lucky we are in the modern world.
One aspect of life that we take for granted is education. Early in the book, Mr. Washington peeks into a schoolhouse and he writes that “I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.”
What a statement. In today’s world, many kids will tell you they hate going to school. My daughter, as responsible as she is, will, from time to time, complain about school work but in reading this book, she is now awakened to the fact that education is not something to be taken for granted. In fact, this book has afforded me the opportunity to open a dialogue with her that there are still millions of people throughout the world who do not have the opportunity to learn to read and write and that a proper education is crucial to our growth as a human race.
Because it is so readily available, most children take their schooling for granted and simply do not place the same value on what it means to have the opportunity to learn. They do not have the perspective to know how powerful an education is. They also are not taught how to learn, which, if done properly, turns the process from a chore into an exciting adventure of the mind!
Instead, education has been turned into a a factory-like institution where we mass produce “educated” peoples. The mystery of it, the logical process, the deducing of decisions from a presentation of facts, the wonder of the written word, etc. all seem to be removed from today’s educational experience. In other words, the majority of our youth do not respect and value education the way Mr. Washington and many people of his time did.
That to me, is a travesty. This must be addressed. Our youth must be made aware of how fortunate they are to have the ability to learn. They need to understand the power it gives them. Most of all, they need to learn how to enjoy the adventure that an education affords.
A true education sets us free for if we become more educated than our ruling class, i.e., today’s slave owners, we can change the world for the better. A true foundation of the classics, arithmetic, history, and the written word needs to be placed front and center in the world of education as opposed to the focus on social issues and ideological indoctrination.
From a true education, we are provided the ability to think and reason the way our Forefathers did. With that, we are truly empowered.
It is my opinion that many of us are slaves. We make think we are free, but the lack of a true thought-provoking education enslaves us much like the slaves who worked on the plantations, replacing the physical slavery with a slavery of the mind.
Once we learn how to think and reason based on facts and knowledge, we will finally move up from slavery ourselves!