Homeschooling Laurel MS
West Point, MS
Emily Robin Jackson
Issue 131, July/August 2005
Education has long been regarded as potentially liberating. The opportunity to learn to read can be linked to changes that shake the foundation of coercive power structures, as well as open up worlds of possibility for individuals. Because mandatory schooling is associated with opportunities for mobility and privilege, with social and economic progress, it is possible to look at the institution as a country's pledge to its citizens to enable such opportunity. In 19th-century America, public education appeared as an alternative to the brutality of child labor and, as such, as a benefit to children. Compulsory schooling is supposed to lead to literacy, once the special province of professionals and the wealthy and now intended for all members of society. Literacy, in turn, is associated with democracy. We believe there is a strong connection between literacy and knowledge or wisdom, between exposure to different cultures and tolerance, between academic learning and economic progress, between education and the formation of democratic citizens. Mandatory schooling is now a worldwide phenomenon associated with modernity, with the so-called economically developed world, and with social or political progress within a society.
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