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Formal Education Tends To Restrain Our Minds And Spirits Rather Than Set Them Free - With A Free Essay Review

Formal education tends to restrain our minds and spirits rather than set them free. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

Whether formal education restrains our minds and spirits depends on some major factors. They are the curriculum and expertise of teachers. The curriculum should impart necessary knowledge and make the student’s mind able to think and analyse. The teachers should be well qualified to train their students in such a way that they would enjoy learning. If both of these aspects are taken care of, then formal education has many advantages when compared to informal education. Because education through experience might not prove successful in all children because some might not have regular commitment, some might lack facilities like books and labs while some might be devoid of expert assistance.

Formal education refers to the process of training and developing people on the basis of a structure and certified program, in contrast to the development through experience. Formal education has many advantages. On learning through a proper school, children get opportunities to meet their peers, interact with them, share knowledge and enjoy games and debates. I do not say that informal education lacks all these but there are more openings for all these in formal education. These qualities help setting the minds and spirits high and happy. The students get easy access to the facilities available at their school or colleges like the libraries, highly equipped labs and the most important the expert guidance on using the facilities in a useful way.

Formal education is very important if someone is seeking an employment because every organization is demanding certificates and evidences proving their education. So, formal education becomes mandatory in those cases.

Though formal education has many advantages, it would not restrain our minds and spirits only if the curriculum and teachers are focussed towards that. Formal education is normally called a ladder process where a curriculum is designed according to different ages and trained teachers help the students in advancing through the curriculum. This curriculum should be made of different interesting subjects, tests and assignments requiring more analysis than reproducing the contents; creative stuff should be increased. So if the curriculum is not putting a burden on the children, they would be happy to study it. Montessori schools are good examples of this. They teach by a play way; the students learn numbers by counting blocks and beads; they pronounce alphabets by phonics. All this would make the children more involved.

Teachers should be well qualified and trained to handle the children properly. Teaching without inspiring students will be like hammering a cold iron. They should employ interesting teaching methods, use more advanced technologies for teaching, organize debates and conduct exhibits of crafts based on subjects to inspire children. It will be better if they give home something to think other than homework. So if the teachers are ready to put some extra effort, they can actually make students actively involved in learning rather than restraining their minds by imposing burdensome homework.

So considering the advantages of formal education over informal education, I would like to conclude that the formal education system when deployed properly will not restrain our minds and spirits.



You spend a good deal of this essay describing what formal education is or should be and relatively little making an argument about why it doesn't, in your view, restrain the mind and spirit. In your second paragraph, for instance, you identify some qualities and then claim that "these qualities help setting the minds and spirits high and happy." I'm afraid that's not much of an argument. You then add a few other details about what formal education gives us access to (libraries, labs, expert guidance), but you make no argument at all about the relevance of these details.

Your next paragraph has the same problem. You point out one of the practical advantages of a formal education (getting a job) but again make no claim immediately relevant to the topic of the essay. If you want to include paragraphs like this, you should clarify how it influences your response to the claim in the prompt. If the only purpose of the paragraph is to demonstrate that formal education has advantages unrelated to the question of whether it sets our minds free, then I don't think the paragraph would be worth devoting time to in an examination.

The beginning of the next paragraph is stronger in that you articulate a specific reason for your position on the claim in the prompt. You think formal education would not restrain our minds as long as it is based on the right sort of curriculum. But the paragraph ends vaguely. You explain what the right curriculum might include but you don't establish the required link between such aspects of the ideal curriculum and its avoiding the restraining of minds and spirits. Instead of just saying that the right curriculum will have "creative stuff," you need to say something like: "The right curriculum will have creative stuff because providing creative outlets for students is a good way of achieving something or other (relevant to the freedom of the mind)." You finish the paragraph by saying Montessori pedagogical practices "would make the children more involved." But it’s not clear what you mean by "involved" or how it relates the liberation of the mind or spirit.

I understand the difficulty you've had responding to this essay. I would find it a bit difficult to write the essay too because I find the word "spirit" and the phrase "set them free" very vague. In fact, I would probably begin the essay by acknowledging this difficulty explicitly. It is very unclear what kind of freedom is being imagined here. What quality does a free mind or spirit have? What is it free from? Or what is it free to do? What quality does a restrained mind have? What is it being held back from? Those are not easy questions to answer and the prompt gives us no help in this regard, so we really just have to answer them as best we can, using our own understanding of spirit or of freedom.

Here are a few initial thoughts:

Formal education trains the mind by presenting it with knowledge; teaching it how to acquire knowledge; giving it the mathematical, scientific, language and reasoning tools necessary to engage critically with the world. So how could any of that fetter the mind. The first problem, I suppose, is that everything that is to be studied is decided in advance by the teacher and the curriculum board; we are taught certain elements of mathematical knowledge but not others; we are taught certain elements of scientific knowledge but not others; we are taught in many cases a range of subjects, and a range of topics within those subjects, with little thought for whether we find the topics or subjects personally interesting. If we take a particular interest in Roman history, say, we are not encouraged to develop that interest, but rather to complete the chapter, do the homework, and move on to the next chapter in the book. In this sense of course there is some restraint placed on us by formal education.

That kind of restraint is necessary because it is impractical to have a different curriculum for every student. But there are also advantages to acquiring a breadth of knowledge. One can learn Roman history by studying it exclusively on one's own; but one is more likely to be able to critically assess the significance of an age by comparing it with historical periods that preceded and followed it if those periods have been studied in a more or less rigorous way. And when we are finished with formal education we will be in a much better position to return to whatever is of deep interest to us and study it with a sharper critical intelligence. Formal education thus might be said to restrain us only with a view to ultimately setting us free.

Are our minds, however, also indoctrinated by formal education. Does such education, whether by design or not, tend to impart a particular type of worldview, a particular ideology? Are our minds and spirits restrained or imprisoned by this ideology? This is probably to some extent true. But it's not as if there are not many other ways that a society has of passing on its prevailing values from one generation to the next. There's the news media, the entertainment industry, the influence of pastors and parents and friends. But a formal education, again, also provides us with tools we can use to question received values and ideologies. So again it might be said that it restrains, but provides the means of achieving freedom.

Formal education in the sciences gives us a particular way of looking at the world. It may be that when we look at a mountain with a formally educated mind, we think about the particular names given to its several parts or the nature of the volcanic activity that gave rise to the mountain, or the modes of erosion that gave the mountain its form over millions of years. Perhaps that way of looking at things is not conducive in itself to the freedom of the unrestrained spirit to stand in awe before the majesty of nature. But the human mind is highly adaptive and flexible. There's no reason why we might not have an experience of the sublime even if our head is also full of facts and theories.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: LakshmiRam

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