What did Malcolm X mean by "homemade education" in his essay "Homemade Education"? What did he learn?

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The term “homemade education” refers to the time Malcolm spent in prison studying. In his essay, Malcolm writes that he was frustrated with his inability to express himself well in writing. In prison, he decided to address this issue by improving his vocabulary and penmanship by copying out, by hand, the entire dictionary. He writes in his essay about the experience of copying that first page, and his sense of accomplishment at learning so many words that he never new even existed. As his vocabulary grew, it became easier for Malcom to read and understand books, so he soon became a voracious reader as well. He estimates that between his copying and reading, he would often study on his own for fifteen hours a day. Such intense mental concentration could make him forget he was in prison. Malcolm even declares in his essay that “[he] had never been so truly free in [his] life.”

Malcolm X was functionally illiterate when he landed in prison. He realized that he was having a difficult...

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