In today’s society, education is more liberal, allowing people to think for themselves and providing them with a broader education. This differs from many years ago, when education was more conservative. Education was very basic, consisting of only academic classes and no electives. People with a more conservative education would never go against what they were taught. However, liberally educated people of today can go against what they are taught, research it themselves, and make new conclusions about their studies. A liberal education enables people to deal with the forces that control their life.
It frees them from the restraints in everyday life. Having such a broad education allows people to deal with such forces. Four psychologists have written essays and constructed theories that can agree that liberal education is of a greater stature than conservatively educated. The essays are “The Theory of Multiple Intelligences,” written by Howard Gardner, “The Personal and Collective Unconscious,” written by Carl Jung, “The Allegory of the Cave,” written by Plato, and “From the Interpretation of Dreams,” written by Sigmund Freud.
In Howard Gardner’s “Theory of Multiple Intelligences” he states that there are seven different kinds of intelligence. He alludes that everyone has the potential to be intelligent in an unconventional way. Gardner writes, “The question of the optimal definition of intelligence looms large in our inquiry. Indeed it is at the level of this definition that the theory of multiple intelligences diverges from the traditional points of view”(370). If one were to have a more conservative education, Gardner’s ideas would have been absurd because nobody would have understood them.
People would have only understood intelligence as being smart in school. People with a conservative education would never look deeper into things. On the other hand, a liberal education teaches people to challenge what they have learned, if they do not agree with it. Gardner did just that. Alfred Binet believed that intelligence was measured by IQ tests. Gardner did not agree with this, so he did his own research on it. Because of Gardner’s liberal education, he was able to rise above those who received a more conservative education.
Carl Jung’s essay, “The Personal and the Collective Unconscious” based itself on a liberal education because it talks about psychology, which falls under liberal education. Psychology is the study of mind and behavior. A liberal education allows people to study this; however, a more conservative education would not because studying the mind is not essential in academics. Psychology studies the things that people cannot see, such as conscious and unconscious states.
It also allows people to not have to accept what other people say. In the essay written by Jung, he stated, “If in such cases we pursue our observations systematically and without prejudice, we shall find material which, although similar in form to the previous personal contents, yet seems to contain allusions that go far beyond the personal sphere”(345). Carl Jung did not agree with Freud’s theory, so he did his own research, and found Freud’s research to be inconclusive.
Because of his liberal education and study in psychology, Jung was able to control the forces in his life and did not agree with what was thought by Freud. Plato’s, “The Allegory of the Cave” shows that the prisoners of his story were unable to see the truth because of their lack of a liberal education. In fact, at first they could not see anything nor could they move their heads. With only the aid of a small fire were they able to see the shadows of pictures on the wall.
However, in the end, one prisoner rose above the shadows and saw the truth when he was let out of the cave, but when he went back to the cave, he was terrorized. Plato wrote, “He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadow’s best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves”(317). The other prisoners were not liberally educated. They believed only what they saw, and they did not see what this one prisoner was saying.
Plato showed that the prisoners were kept in darkness, unable to see the truth. When they finally were told the truth, they did not believe it because they had not seen it for themselves. During the story, the prisoners were kept in shadows. Today, society deals with the same problem. In today’s society, people have to deal with being lied to by the government and media, which only tell people what they want them to know, and in a sense, they disfigure the truth.
With the authority figures, such as the media and government, keeping people in the shadows just like the prisoners, people do not always know what to believe. Sometimes people want to believe what they are told, even though they know it’s a lie. The difference between the prisoners and people today is that more people today have a liberal education. Those with a liberal education can see what the government and media may not want them to see, looking beyond what is given to them, but going out of reach and gathering other information.
In the essay written by Sigmund Freud, “From the Interpretation of Dreams,” Freud analyzed people’s behaviors through their dreams. He had noticed that dreams played an important role in his analysis of neurotic and “hysterical” patients. Freud believed that sleeping dreams were nearly always, like daydreams, wish fulfillment. Wish fulfillment is such that it may be enrolled in the continuity of the intelligible psychic activities of the waking state; it is built up by a highly complicated intellectual activity.
Freud went beyond the boundaries of education. Freud explains his reasoning about dreams, “[Dreams] are not meaningless, they are not absurd; they do not imply that one portion of our store of ideas is asleep while another portion is beginning to wake” (330). He took a different approach about the way he analyzed people. His liberally educated mind allowed him to get past the typical mental analysis and utilize dream interpretations to fabricate theories. Today’s education is more liberal than it has been in the past.
A liberal education teaches people to think for themselves and it provides people with a broader education. The classes that are part of a liberal education are not just the general education classes, they are also electives. A liberal education teaches people to challenge what they do not believe, but a person with a more conservative education would never challenge what they were told. In challenging what they do not believe, they can further research it. In doing this it frees people from the restraints in their everyday life, and allows them to control the forces in their life.