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I need help with an essay titled 'Genius without education is like silver in the mine'...

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kruda | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 10, 2011 at 7:31 PM via web

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I need help with an essay titled 'Genius without education is like silver in the mine' - Benjamin Franklin.

I need help with an essay titled 'Genius without education is like silver in the mine' - Benjamin Franklin.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 10, 2011 at 9:02 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a very interesting quote to write an essay about. Obviously, your starting point has to be the main focus of the quote, which is on the benefits of education. The analogy that Franklin is drawing between genius as silver, and education as the process that brings that silver out of the "mine" and into the light of day suggests that there is something in the process of education that clearly helps people to discover their areas of genius and to use them for the benefit of both themselves and of all humanity.

Now, you might want to argue both sides of this issue. Firstly, you could look at the ways in which education definitely does not help people to discover their talents and to use them for the good of society. You could look at the way in which the system of education that we have only appears to "work" for a given sector of the population, as any survey of the ethnicity or class background of college students would show. You also might like to look into various theories about education, such as Marx, who argued that education was a way of making sure the lower classes knew their place and did not rock the boat of society.

On the other side of the issue, you could look at how education exposes us to different ideas and theories that can help hone our own strengths and weaknesses. Education, it could be argued, is a process that helps us to discover our own identity, and without it, we would not be able to exploit and make the most of our own areas of genius.

After looking at both views, you would need to decide what your own personal ideas are, stating them in the conclusion. Hope this helps and good luck!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 10, 2011 at 9:44 PM (Answer #3)

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That Benjamin Franklin's statement bears much veracity is evident in this brief anecdote:  About twenty-five years ago, an inmate in a U.S. Federal Correction Institution told some members of the educational staff who had enabled him to enroll in college courses that were taught at the prison, 

"Had I gotten an education, I don't think I would be here because education opens new avenues of thinking for people.  I have found many avenues that I never knew about before now!" 

The exposure to learning taps into areas of thought that the learner would not experience without the opportunities offered by education.  The record books are filled with stories of youth who, once enrolled in college, have found other areas of study that they heretofore were not aware of, but, in which they soon excel. Just a search of many inventors, scientists, etc. reveals tells a person how many people have discovered themselves when they begin their educations. (A search of the biographies of famous people should provide the documentation that is needed.)

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:34 AM (Answer #4)

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Great quote! The idea, of course, is that genius requires direction. You can find some actual people to back this up. There's the Good Will Hunting type, a diamond in the rough whose potential is discovered and cultivated. There's the self-educated type, like Abraham Lincoln. You could also use this as an essay describing the importance of education, because our current system is not very good at identifying genius or cultivating it.

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