How was Douglass's view on education different from his masters' as told in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Douglass's view on education differs from that of his masters in terms of content and accessibility.  Because formal education is made unavailable to slaves, Douglass sees "education" partly in terms of knowledge that he can gain in alternative places.  When he is living in Baltimore, Douglass seeks the neighborhood children to teach him things that they learn in school.  When he becomes older and is able to take on apprenticeships, he sees these as part of his education as well.  Douglass values the practical knowledge that he obtains just as he does the formal literacy training he received when he first arrived in Baltimore.  The slave masters do not believe that slaves should be afforded an education, particularly the skills of reading and writing, because they think that educated slaves will be persuaded by the abolitionist movement.  Douglass, on the other hand, believes that withholding education further violates people and of course he is staunchly against it.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous thoughts were addressed the topic quite well.  I would only add that there is a great deal of opposites present in assessing Douglass' views of education. Naturally, his staus as a slave precluded him from being the recipient of education.  His view of it was thus one that reflected a reality of power, a disproportionate construction that helped to bring about a sense of inequality in the reality of his own consciousness and perception about the world around him.  In much the same way as to how individuals understand the issue of wealth as one defines the reality one lives, Douglass viewed education in that same light.  Education was reserved for those with power and with prestige, and in much the same way that someone who is denied wealth covets and cherishes it, Douglass perceives education in the same light.

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