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The Role of Education in Nurturing Freedom and Independence
by: Priyanka Raha ~ 7/4/2024

The role of education, and how past and current educational practices continue
to unshackle minds and shape the future with knowledge.


Have you ever wondered why a bird, once freed from its cage, soars high and wide, exploring the vast expanse of the sky? It's because freedom is innate, it's a primal instinct. Now, imagine this bird as the human mind, and the cage as ignorance. The key to unlock this cage? Education.

Education has always been the cornerstone of freedom and independence. It's the liberator of minds, the igniter of ideas, and the catalyst for change. From the ancient Greeks, who believed in the power of knowledge to the modern world, where education is seen as a fundamental human right, the journey of education has been about fostering freedom and independence.

Historical Perspectives on Education and Freedom

Historically, education has played a pivotal role in the fight for freedom and independence. During the Renaissance, the rebirth of classical learning sparked a new wave of intellectual freedom. In the 19th century, the advent of public education in many parts of the world was a significant step towards democratizing knowledge. It broke down the barriers of class and privilege, making education accessible to all, and thus promoting freedom and independence.

The Founding Fathers of the United States understood the importance of an educated populace in sustaining a democratic society. Thomas Jefferson, one of the most vocal advocates for public education, believed that an informed citizenry was essential for the preservation of liberty and the prevention of tyranny. The establishment of public education systems in America the 19th century further emphasized the link between education and independence. Public schools were seen as institutions that could instill civic virtues and a sense of national identity. Horace Mann, often referred to as the "Father of American Public Education," argued that education was the great equalizer, providing all individuals, regardless of their socio-economic background, with the opportunity to achieve personal and economic independence.

Around the world throughout history education has always been the pivotal force in promoting freedom and independence, empowering individuals and societies to break free from oppression and build foundations for democratic governance and personal autonomy.

In Ancient Greece, the philosopher Plato founded the Academy in Athens, one of the earliest institutions of higher learning in the Western world. His student, Aristotle, established the Lyceum. Both institutions emphasized the importance of education in developing critical thinking and ethical reasoning, which were seen as necessary for participating in civic life and governance. During the Enlightenment period in Europe (17th-18th centuries) philosophers like John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated for education as a means of liberating individuals from ignorance and enabling them to think independently. Rousseau’s seminal work, "Emile, or On Education," argued that education should nurture the natural abilities and moral sense of individuals, preparing them for participation in a free society.

During the Indian independence movement, leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore emphasized the role of education in achieving freedom from colonial rule. Gandhi promoted "Nai Talim" or "Basic Education," which integrated manual work and vocational training with academic learning, aimed at making individuals self-reliant and capable of critical thinking. Tagore, a Nobel laureate, established Visva-Bharati University, emphasizing holistic education that nurtured creativity and moral values alongside intellectual development. During the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century, leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and organizations like the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) fought for equal educational opportunities for African Americans. The landmark case Brown v. Board of Education (1954) declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, highlighting the importance of equal access to education as a fundamental right and a crucial step toward achieving social and political freedom.

After the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa prioritized education as a means of rebuilding the nation and promoting equality. Nelson Mandela famously said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." The new government invested heavily in education to redress the inequalities of the past and to empower all citizens to participate fully in the country’s democracy and economic development.

Current Educational Practices

In modern times, public education continues to play a pivotal role in nurturing these values. Schools are not just about imparting knowledge; they are about fostering critical thinking, promoting diversity, and encouraging individuality. They are the breeding grounds for the future citizens of the world, instilling in them the values of freedom and independence.

Take the story of Malala Yousafzai, for example. A young girl from Pakistan, she stood up against the Taliban's oppressive regime to fight for her right to education. Despite being shot, she did not back down. Today, she is a global symbol of the power of education to foster freedom and independence.

Finland's education system is renowned for its student-centered approach, which emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, and holistic development. Finnish schools prioritize equal opportunities, with no standardized testing until high school. This system fosters an environment where students are encouraged to explore and develop their unique talents, promoting personal independence and a sense of responsibility. Singapore has transformed its education system to focus on critical thinking and innovation, preparing students for a rapidly changing global landscape.

In the United States, there is a strong emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to prepare students for future job markets. Initiatives like the "Educate to Innovate" campaign aims to improve STEM literacy across diverse demographics. Additionally, there is a growing focus on inclusive education, ensuring that students with disabilities and from marginalized communities have access to quality education, thereby promoting equal opportunities and social freedom. India has been leveraging technology to make education more accessible, especially in rural areas. Programs like Digital India and initiatives such as e-learning platforms (e.g., Diksha, Swayam) provide free educational resources to millions of students. This democratization of education empowers individuals by providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue their ambitions independently.

As we move forward, it's crucial to remember that education is not just about reading, writing, or arithmetic. It's about nurturing the human spirit, fostering a sense of freedom and independence, and empowering individuals to make informed decisions. It's about creating a world where every mind is free to explore, question, and grow.
So, let's continue to champion education, to unlock more cages, and to let more minds soar. Let's remember that every lesson taught, every book read, and every idea shared, is a step towards a more free and independent world.


Finding new ways to inspire kids to stay curious, learn, and communicate effectively is one of my life’s work which is why I include many fun activities in our writing classes to inspire the next generation of thinkers and explorers. Want to learn more about our summer camps? Check us out here.

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