What is a topic from Gulliver's Travels that Swift satirizes that continues into the modern era? Is government's role in education one? If yes, how? How does this relate to the modern era? Despite...

What is a topic from Gulliver's Travels that Swift satirizes that continues into the modern era? Is government's role in education one? If yes, how? How does this relate to the modern era? Despite the promises of the Enlightenment and our near 300-year reverence for science and reason, problems still plague Western society. How is this topic still relevant to today's society? 

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The government's role in education is a topic that Swift satirizes in Gulliver's Travels and that continues today. Among the Lilliputians, "parents are the last of all others to be trusted with the education of their own children," and children of both genders, save the children of laborers, are put into public nurseries at the age of 20 months. There, they are instructed according to their class backgrounds to "such a condition of life as befits the rank of their parents." In other words, the children among the Lilliputians are raised to be just like their parents, and they only see their parents twice a year (for one hour at a time). 

Swift's satire of education relates to the modern era because parents are still expected to allow state-run (or sometimes private-run schools) to educate their children, and parents must follow laws of the school system (regarding, for example, which books their children read, which classes they take, etc.). Children still largely are expected to follow in the footsteps of their parents, and, similar to the Lilliputian system, there isn't much class mobility (or the ability for people of the less educated class to become better educated). Though Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels almost 300 years ago, our society is still plagued by the rigidity of public education and its perpetuation of barriers to social mobility. Therefore, similar problems to those Swift satirizes still plague us today.