The Dictation Of Learning Essay

1236 words - 5 pages

The academic instruction given to students caused numerous approaches to form in order to best determine how concepts were received, sought throughout life, and utilized out of schooling. The debate over the dictation of learning has and continues to be a controversial topic. W. E. B. Du Bois made a point in his essay “The Talented Tenth” that higher education should focus on intellectually privileged, promising, and exceptional blacks in order to raise the academic level for their race. His essay, written in 1903, tackles the issue of education in an equally important, but different way than Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who protests against the idea of (the then) conventional instruction in her 1915 novel Herland. Observing their differences, readers of “The Talented Tenth” and Herland get a historical perspective and understanding in the development of our modern ideas of education.
W. E. B. Du Bois’s ideas in “The Talented Tenth” were written in response to Booker T. Washington’s idea in the Atlanta compromise, but together both arguments played an important role in shaping today’s view of personal learning, higher education, college applications, and scholarships. Booker T. Washington gave the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition Speech in 1895, which emphasized working to blacks all as well as the beginning of personal learning through the Atlanta compromise. Personal learning-the ability to choose what to study and how far to pursue those studies- advanced the former idea of education and exists to provide knowledge for particular interests determined by interests, wants, and needs. We see those ideas today in trade schools, magnet schools, the declarations of majors and minors, and even work-study programs. The current focus on specialization in one or more specific field echoed the awareness that working was just as important as education (Washington).
The rebuttal by Du Bois arose from the desire of a more conventional approach rather than a solely work focused mindset. Du Bois began “The Talented Tenth” with that claim “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth” (Du Bois 48). He had visions of the prestigious black scholar, one of the top ten percent specifically, who would raise the morale, education, standard, and very concept of his race. Colleges that gain a respected title, groups like the Ivy League and Black Ivy League comprised out of prestigious institutions, repeat the notion of an admired image still seen now. Du Bois continued his introduction by praising the talented tenth, “It is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst” (48). The drive to be the best, the competitive aspect of job hunting and college admissions, and exclusiveness all reflected the Talented Tenth. College admissions will...

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