Learning and Teaching Through Experience
Frederick Douglass, a man who searched beyond what he saw with his eyes alone, a man who actually utilized his thoughtful perception, has illustrated the capabilities we all have, but seldom use. I believe his story, Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, was not written solely to inform, but also as an example, maybe even as instruction to better human life. His experiences and reactions represented a learning and teaching process that had an impact and a meaning that have drastically changed the way the world looks at slavery. This learning and teaching process is one that has the possibility and power to bring wonderful benefit to this world, and is one that is not adapted by enough people to actually bring forth this benefit.
To most, education is something taught, something told, or something heard. To Frederick Douglass, education was an experience, something learned, and most importantly, something he lived.
Frederick Douglass did not have the basic tools of education handed to him. He only sought for these tools, found ways to learn, and utilized what he had to take himself further. When Frederick learned the alphabet with the help of one of his master's wife, it gave him something to build upon. Douglass writes, 'The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me an inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.' (891) Searching and striving for more, that which we cannot actually see, is something at which most make no attempt. Frederick Douglass knew he could build from what he had, and it was that inch, and only that inch from which he built. He searched for the opportunities to educate himself; opportunities that were not given to him,