In Elia Kazan's On The Waterfront, discuss the implications of Edie's belief that “I’ve seen things that I know are so wrong. Now how can I go back to school and keep my mind on things that...

In Elia Kazan's On The Waterfront, discuss the implications of Edie's belief that “I’ve seen things that I know are so wrong. Now how can I go back to school and keep my mind on things that are just in books?”

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Edie's statement speaks to much regarding life on the docks.  On one hand, there is something profound in how the statement reveals a significant distance between education and real life.  Edie's statement reveals what many kids who have grown up on the docks and end up becoming the adults on the docks experience.  In this experience, education is defined as something in "books."  The standard read of education as being taught in a vacuum outside the reality that confronts students is evident.  This is enhanced by the parochial school instruction method that focuses on rote memorization and isolated facts, refusing to analyze the outside world.  Edie's quote brings out this disconnect.  In a way, the statement explains how education fails modern youth when it fails to make connection to their world.  For the modern student who cannot see a connection between what is happening in their world and what is happening in school, education remains as "things just in books."  Edie's statement holds much in way of implication because it reveals how there is little way out for the kids on the docks to become the adults that are ensnared by Friendly and life on the docks.  The opportunity ideology that stresses children using education to become successful and work hard is not reinforced in a setting where education is so static and so apart from the reality that the child experiences.  It is here where education resides and helps to explain why the life at the docks is understood as so bad and so fundamentally dreary, yet is a life so readily accepted by so many.

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