On The Uses Of A Liberal Education: As A Weapon In The Hands Of The Restless Poor

748 words - 3 pages

In the 1997 article, “On The Uses of a Liberal Education: As a Weapon In the Hands of the Restless Poor,” published by Harper’s Magazine, the social critic Earl Shorris described how political power could be achieved by a rather non-vocational educational discipline, the humanities. He emphasizes on how the knowledge of a liberal Education can be used as a form of weapon within the lives for the poor.
Shorris wanted to explore on poverty in America and write a book based on opinions on what keeps people poor. Therefore, as results of varied conversations with special people in prison, Shorris came to support the prisoner, Viniece Walker’s, argument that destitute students are those most in need of a liberal education. Viniece introduced Shorris to the thought of the “moral life of downtown”, meaning to expose them to museums, lectures, etc. (Page 2), which he understood as the need for reflection for the poor. This emphasizes the very fact that in order for the poor to escape from their “surround of force” (Page 1) they must undergo a transformation rooted in reflection and self-realization. Shorris believes that “the surround of force is what keeps the poor from being political and the absence of politics in their lives is what keeps them poor.”(Page 1) He further explains that by political he means: “activity with other people at every level, from the family to the neighborhood to the broader community city-state”(Page 1). This idea of a different type of learning, instead of your everyday math and English, but a broader education where there isn’t always a right or wrong answer is what Shorris believes is the key difference maker. Thus with these new realizations, Shorris set up an experiment to verify his theory of the importance of a liberal education for the poor.
Shorris sees the humanities as a tool for these students to create a place for themselves in the world, a tool that will alter them to challenge their present situation, a tool that will challenge them to reach for certain things more than what they have been offered with. When Shorris explains his goal to the prospective students he indicates, “You’ve been cheated. Rich people learn the...

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