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Friday, 7 October 2011

Emerson's views on American Education and Transcendentalism

Views on Education        
Emerson was very clear in his views on education. He says that the pupil should be allowed to choose what he wants to study and the choice should not be imposed on him. According to him, the important points in training are genius and drill. Genius refers to leaving the pupil to develop own perception and inspiration while drill refers to giving practice to the student so that he can gain accuracy and precision(Cheever 2006).

Emerson wanted education to teach the practical and the moral. It should make people brave and free. It should teach the boys to become what they want to be. Education should train them as if there is belief in their noble qualities. It should educate their bodies. Its aim should not be to equip them with some skill in numbers and words so as to make them attorneys, engineers and accountants. It should mould them into capable, sincere and empathetic people. The aim of education should be in sync with the objective in life. The education should stress on morality, self trust, inspiration to invoke self- interest and increasing his acquaintance with his mental resources. Only such education is in consonance with divine provision (Cheever 2006).

American Education
American Education or for that matter, education in most parts of the world did not develop and perform the way visionaries like Emerson expected it to do. The educational institutions are bent on promoting literacy among people rather than educating them. That is the reason as to why we witness very few creative thinkers emerging from modern educational institutions(Cheever 2006).

Transcendentalism was a new movement in literature and philosophy in the 1830s and 1840, which rose in protest against state of culture and society at that time. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were two of the important transcendentalists. The transcendentalists believed in the ideal state of mind. Such state of mind is realized only through one’s intuition and not through the regimented doctrines of established religions (Cheever 2006).
Emerson’s views on various matters focus on creativity and originality which are the outputs of ideal state of mind. His revolutionary ideas on education, literature and reading transcend the physical aspects of these concepts (Cheever 2006).

Cheever, S. 2006. American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau; Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work, Thorndike Press, Detroit.

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