Education is defined as acquiring skills. There are many different ways to be educated and many subjects that can be studied. A good education is one that teaches a student to think. This is proven by Edith Hamilton, Malcolm X, and Adrian Rich in their works to define what they believe about learning and its importance to our world. In Edith Hamilton’s essay, The Ever-present Past, she described a good education as one that is modeled after the ancient Greek’s ideas. She defines being educated as being able to be caught up into a world of thought (752). The Greeks were taught to think.
They were cultivated on an individual level so that they knew how to conceive ideas on their own. During the times of the ancient Greeks students were shown how to appreciate poetry, music, arts, and mathematics. They carried their education of thought into their government and their ways of life. The era of the ancient Greeks was laid by the teachings of their schools and therefore helped make them into a notable civilization. Today, Hamilton believes that with our set way of teaching we are not encouraging individuals to think. She concludes that we are headed towards a standardization of minds (756).
Hamilton believes that we need to challenge our society to shape our educational goals after those of the Greeks. With the problems our world faces we should study how the Greeks triumphed in a savage world and how they were educated to do so. Then maybe we can learn how to prevent the standardization of the minds in our society and avoid repeating the ill-fated history of the ancient Greeks (754). In Malcolm X’s, Freedom Through Learning To Read, a chapter of his autobiography, he describes a good education as being able to understand life. He wrote of how he desired to acquire more knowledge.
This inner struggle began when he envied his friend’s intelligence and when he was unable to express himself eloquently in letters. From that point he began to read everything. Malcolm X started by copying a dictionary to learn all the words he could. From there he never spent fifteen minutes free time without a book (48). As he studied the works of Mr. Elijah Muhammad he realized how the history of the black Americans were not included in most books. He searched to find a book to learn the history of the African-Americans and finally found a few that taught him about slavery (49).
Malcolm X said that through his domestic education a new world had been opened up to him. He achieved his goal of learning to read and through that obtain what is considered by many a good education. He was able to read, understand, and form ideas and opinions based on what he had read (53). Through reading Malcolm X was capable of expressing his own views and our society benefited greatly from this self-educated man. In Adrienne Rich’s, Claiming An Education, a speech given at Douglass College, she describes a good or serious education as the study of languages, ideas, methods, and values (58).
Part of being educated is refusing to let others do your thinking, naming, or talking for you(59). Some of the most important things needed to fulfill intellectual independence are to learn the ways of rationalizing, deep discussions, and writing. Rich writes about how it is our own responsibility to claim an education and how we should not sell ourselves short (59). In order to learn we first need to assess what we hear and read in our courses to form an opinion (57). In order to form an opinion, Rich says that we have to first commit ourselves to our studies and expect others to show us respect.
Rich describes an education as a commitment and a responsibility (59). Throughout these essays the main ideas were that to be educated a student has to be an individual and be able to think. There are many arguments over what we should study and how we should be taught. There is no wrong or right way to teach or certain subjects that need to be studied. As long as the students are taught to think for themselves and have the desire to learn, they will be able to obtain a good education.