How does Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The American Scholar" relate to education today?

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In "The American Scholar," Emerson writes that the true scholar is "the Man Thinking" and asks, "is not, indeed, every man a student?" He then focuses on the education of the "true scholar" and contrasts it to the "degenerate" state of the scholar of his day. The "true scholar" learns directly from nature, and from this kind of direct observation learns how to classify and analyze objects. He also finds his "Soul" in nature, so the study of nature, or what we might today call science, has a moral purpose.

The true scholar also learns from the examples of history. History comes from books, yet a scholar must be beware of how he reads books. They reflect the time in which they were written, in other words, the past, and the true genius must be forward looking. Books therefore must be read primarily for their ability to inspire us. Emerson also says the following of reading: 

Books are for the scholar's idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 832 words.)

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