Ten Principles of Education for Slavery

  1. A slave’s education is coercive
  2. The slave is not told why he is being forced to be educated
  3. A slave’s education keeps the slave dependent on the thoughts of others
  4. A slave’s education keeps the slave weak
  5. A Slave’s education prepares him to work for others instead of preparing him to work for himself
  6. A slave’s education neglects the slave’s unique strengths and contributions, developing only what some other institution or group needs him for
  7. A slave’s education is not oriented toward the honor of the slave but the glory of his master
  8. A slave’s education is not under natural authority but is under the arbitrary authority of the self-appointed and self-validating
  9. A slave’s education does not develop the higher virtues of wisdom and justice (for rather obvious reasons)
  10. A slave’s education does not cultivate the qualities of a free person (virtue and honor and all that arises from them)

6 Responses

  1. Christopher,

    Your recognition of the problem goes a long way in helping your students become the people they need to be. Truth is always powerful. If you can be free in the midst of the chains you will provide a powerful example to your students. The Apostle Paul was his most free in prison; his prison epistles are glorious expositions of the Christian life. Plumb the depths of those letters and draw some principles from Paul that you can apply to the classroom.

    Blessings in your endeavor,

  2. Regarding Mr. Cothran’s suggestion, I would say the principles of Education for Freedom are the virtuous middle path between Education for Flavery and education for the Master Race. Hobbes (or even Plato, in the Republic) would have espoused the former and Nietzsche or the Spartans the latter. Perhaps they would look something like:
    1. For the Master, education is a means to power.
    2. Because knowledge is power, it should only be for the Master.
    3. The Master will use his education to keep other subservient to him.

    And so forth.

    Regarding Ms. Wooden’s observation regarding paradox, I entirely agree. I am reminded of the Irish slogan “Bona na Croin” which translates “Neither collar nor crown.” This is supposed to be the cry of a free man. Yet, for Christians, we say “Both collar AND crown.” We are, as the Body of Christ, rulers of the earth. Yet, like Christ, we rule only with love and through service. That is, as slaves. Not exactly “slave, yet free” but “slave, yet king.”

    “Be both a servant and free: a servant in that you are subject to God, but free in that you are not enslaved to anything — either to empty praise or to any of the passions.” — Mar John of Apamea

    Finally, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I begin every year by saying what most of my (public students) already think. They are slaves. People tell them to come to school, tell them where to go, tell them what to wear and tell them what to learn. As a result, they fall into one of the two categories of slavery, Gang system or Task system. In the former, they are made to work from bell to bell which foments resentment and, eventually, rebellion. In the latter, they rush through their tasks in order to get the grade and move on to something they really want to do.
    The problem is that, especially in public schools, it’s hard to promote an environment of free men freely gathered to learn. I haven’t quite figured out how to do what I need to do to help them become the people they need to be.


  3. Andrew,

    How does number seven correlate to the idea that as Christians we are considered as slaves (prisoners) of Christ and as such the ‘education’ we receive in the Scripture is oriented to the glory of the ultimate Master, The Lord of Lords? Could it be that God is able to solely consider His own glory which flows down in honor to the slave? I think perhaps there is a paradox involved here: slave, yet free.


  4. I’m waiting breathlessly for your Ten Item response to Martin.

    Educating for freedom is hard work – educating oneself for freedom is hard work even when you have a vision, however faulty. It sounds as though you mean that children should be allowed to ‘choose’, but Scripture (and Plato) both emphasize that period of ‘training’ when they may not choose because their appetites are uneducated.

  5. Do you mean the principles of an education for freedom?

    They’re coming.

    Otherwise, I think your comment was snide and much too subtle for me. You’d better help me on this one.


  6. This is good. But lest you start sounding like the newest educational incarnation of Rousseau, you should also come up with the “Ten Principles of Education for the Master Race” showing the other side of the problem. What would that look like?

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