Board of Ancestors| A Cooper, a Du Bois, and an Emerson Log into a Chat

Reflections on American Education Philosophies, how they align and differ on the aims of liberal education?

During their lives all three thinkers saw a country grew westward, the laws change around who is considered human and an entire country nearly go up in flames due to interstate conflict (civil war, reconstruction, etc.)

As the nation rose from the ashes each individual saw a window, an opportunity to redefine what was considered American, and who will lead us into the future.

Right To Education

The most striking difference between writers is their perception what is “natural” under the eyes of God as it pertains to the right to education. Emerson believes in the education of “man”, DuBois, the “talented-tenth” of black men and Cooper believes that all people are worthy of education. Cooper obviously has the most expansive perspective of who is deserving of education.

Aim of Education

All three philosophers share similar visions of the aim of a liberal arts education. Each of them acknowledges the potential drawbacks of formal learning with respect to creativity, open-mindedness, and critical thinking.. All three of the writers discuss the aim of education being to open the minds of learners, but none of them mention any particular vocation or role that symbolizes the peak of their ideals.

The aim of education under all three philosophers emphasizes creating citizens who will push the country into a higher ideological status. Emerson strongly believes that the skeptic, the individual who aspires to seek out his or her own knowledge will lead society forward.

Philosophies Emphasizing Race & Gender

Du Bois believes that black Americans have unique perspective, which allows them to see the country through a different lens. This lens could be beneficial to the country’s overall societal growth. He also believes that a racially integrated school system would be the key to lifting the veil that prevents both black and white Americans from seeing the societal issues that exist in this country. All three speak to the danger of emphasizing a vocational education over fostering a well rounded education, that incorporates philosophical expression and speaking from your own perspective.

Cooper wants there to be room for all people in education. Her philosophy emphasizes the cooperation of individuals across racial and gender lines. She also makes room for philosophies that expand beyond western traditions of learning. Her perspective on the roles each gender plays is dated and problematic overall her emphasis on intersectionality speaks to a deep sense of how we achieve societal equality.

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