The Interdependent Relationship Between Education and Liberty
In America, few things are as highly esteemed and valued as liberty and education. It was a pursuit of liberty that caused the first pilgrims to come to America in order that they might have freedom of religion; it was a pursuit of liberty that caused the colonies to declare independence from Britain’s rule, and it is in pursuit of liberty that millions of people have immigrated to the United States. Liberty has become America’s theme, pride, and joy.
Alongside liberty, education has always been present. It was viewed as highly important, even before the founding of the United States, as a means of maintaining liberty. Today, however, many people do not understand the relationship between education and liberty, believing them to be incompatible and in opposition to one another, when in fact the very opposite is true. Education and liberty have an interdependent relationship; you cannot have one without the other. In order to understand why education and liberty have an interdependent relationship, you must first understand what education and liberty are. Education is not confined to a school building nor is it confined to a series of basic subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
In his American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster defines education as “that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and form them for usefulness in their future stations”. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are obviously necessary parts of education, but they are not the only things that education is comprised of. Whereas education gives you the tools to be able to think and learn, liberty gives you the ability to find truth. Liberty is basically freedom from restraint. However, it is not the freedom to do whatever you want, being irresponsible and denying basic truths and morals. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, once said, “Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought.
” Liberty gives you the ability to seek truth and progress in life. With those definitions in mind, let us go on to see the relationship between education and liberty. Education is dependent on liberty for two main reasons. First, without liberty, you will be taught what to think instead of how to think. That is not true education; that is indoctrination.
If you are taught what to think instead of how to think, then your mind is not being enlightened in understanding; you are simply being “programmed”, like a robot, to think a certain way. This is the basis of Communist education, which seeks to turn little children into future supporters of their violent, socialist agenda. If the Communist leaders can gain control of what and how the children are taught, they can make them believe what they want them to believe. This manipulation of the mind will happen in any form of instruction that is void of liberty, contradicting the very definition of education, which is to “enlighten the understanding”. Secondly, education is dependent on liberty because without liberty, you cannot truly learn. Education is about expanding your knowledge and abilities, and that is impossible without the liberty to search for truth.
For example, most schools today teach the theory of evolution in regard to the history of mankind and the earth. Evolution is the only theory that they teach and endorse. Because they do not introduce other theories, such as Creation or Intelligent Design, they are, in essence, forcing their students to believe in evolution. They aren’t allowing them to see both sides, critically think through the theories, and make their own decision. Without liberty, students aren’t truly learning or being educated; they are being conformed to a certain mold.
Just as education is dependent on liberty, liberty is dependent upon education. Without education, you will be confined to the realm of your limited knowledge. The early American colonists fully realized this fact. They knew that in order to remain a free people, they must be an educated people, able to think, discern, and understand. They educated their children so that their children would be fit to rule themselves wisely when that responsibility fell to them.
This education protected their liberty by creating a people who knew how to think and function in the world. Additionally, without education, you do not have the liberty to progress and reach your full potential as a human being. The world will not be opened to you because you will be stuck between the closed doors of your own limited understanding. For example, without the ability to read and write, it will be extremely hard for you to find employment, make a living, and understand the workings of the political world around you. This is because basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic are used daily in most employments of the modern world.
Without a basic education, you are liable to be taken advantage of and controlled by those who are educated. Liberty is in jeopardy or even nonexistent when education is not present. An example of this can be seen in the lives of the Africans who were brought to America as slaves. Normally, they were not given an education, but were treated like animals. Their lack of education caused them to be taken advantage of. One person who truly understood the relationship between education and liberty was Frederick Douglas.
Frederick Douglas was born a slave, but he later escaped and obtained freedom. Having become educated, he encouraged the education of former slaves. He wrote: “But if a man is without education although with all his latent possibility attaching to him he is as I have said, but a pitiable object; a giant in body but a pigmy in intellect, and at best but half a man…
Education, on the other hand, means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light by which men can only be made free.” Therefore, education and liberty are not only closely related, but indispensible to one another. Education itself is important, but without liberty it is merely indoctrination. Likewise, liberty itself is important, but without education it is rendered useless.