The core truth in "The American Scholar," originally delivered as a speech to some of Harvard's most elite scholars, is that it is crucial to continually examine educational philosophies in order to produce people who fully develop their powers of reasoning.
For example, Emerson notes that relying too heavily on books of the past can lead to a type of educational laziness:
Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these books.
Thus, he argues, in the quest to think as deeply as former great thinkers of the past, students sometimes don't do their own original thinking. He notes that, while the educational value in books of the past should be noted, students should also not rely too heavily on those ideas, instead carving out reasoning for themselves.
Emerson also notes the value in physical work and action itself,...
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