Thomas Jefferson wrote the famous lines that have never stopped resonating in the American mind. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the rights of every American citizen. Jefferson believed that education was a portal this American dream. He believed that education guides the future of a nation and is intertwined with the principles of democracy. Although at the time Jefferson did not include all American people in his educational quest the second legacy surrounding the aspects of education still resonate amongst the American society.
Thomas Jefferson had two propositions about education. “First, that ‘educational theory was inseparable from political theory,’ and that the survival of a democratic/republican form of government depended on an educated populace that would be ‘virtuous and vigilant’” (qtd. in Wagoner 9) He said that education and politics were interlinked. Democracy is one of the many types of government that cannot exist in its pure form. It is a popular belief, or a highly debatable belief that the decision made be a majority cannot be right simply because it is based on a majority. The majority can only be right or close to right when the entire decision making population is educated. Education provides a means to think and to reach the right decision at the end. Education gives people the ability to think and explore ideas and form theories that are best suitable to them. An educated mind is free from ignorance and an ignorant mind cannot make decisions. For that reason, it is important for a population to be educated, just like Jefferson hoped and stated to Littleton Waller Tazewell in his letter Blue Print of the University, “a degree of learning given to every member of the society as will enable him to read, to judge & to vote understandingly on what is passing.”(1151)
Jefferson’s second proposition was that “freedom in all of its forms-political freedom, religious freedom, and intellectual freedom-was essential to both a sound education system and a well functioning ‘republican polity.’”(qtd. in Wagoner 9) Education is supposed to the free the mind of all constraints. A slave can break through the chains of oppression through education. Therefore, an educational system that does not free a human being of everything is useless. Jefferson believed education was a means to free oneself and protect the future of the nation.
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