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Oral Presentation Slot B: Responses...

Stormy Knight's presentation blog focused on the reading in Writing Material by You Can Always Look it Up—Or Can You? By E.D Hirsch, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Well I wholeheartedly believe that it takes knowledge to gain knowledge for the sheer fact that everyone has to learn to read and write from someone else. There are very few self taught literate individuals. Learning breeds learning and that is the way the cycle works.

I am not sure how I feel about the definition of cognitive learning.

“Cognitive learning supports deeper knowledge of many subjects as opposed to a broad knowledge base.” Is this in theory an argument against the liberal arts education?

Stormy's Question Responses:

1. I sometimes use the internet to look up things that I am not completely clear on, but I do not use outside books often. The convenience of the internet allows me to Google a topic or simply look for an entry about it on Wikipedia.

2. I prefer to use the internet all the time.

David Cristello's presentation was on paper and therefore could not be linked to directly. Since David centered his focus on Malcolm X I used a large part of paper 1 to comment on his presentation.

As a child Malcolm X saw the effects of racism in his neighborhood when a group of white supremacists burned down his house. After this event X was changed for life and became a pimp, drug dealer and hustler. Upon being sent to jail in 1946, X sought out education as a means of necessity to function. In order to improve his reading and writing skills copied the dictionary word for word. The Autobiography of Malcolm X demonstrates how previously uneducated individuals can use the power of reading and writing for empowerment. This is comparable to the way in which slaves were uneducated and were then granted sudden access to a new social power upon receiving an education.

Similarly to Frederick Douglass, X is a perfect example of someone that has used increased literacy power and education to impact society at large. Upon arriving in jail X began writing letters to the people he had known in the hustling world and never received a reply. According to X “the average hustler and criminal was too uneducated to write a letter. ”During the time that X was in jail he wrote to powerful political individuals such as the Mayor of Boston, Governor of Massachusetts and Harry S. Truman. He used the power of writing in order to voice his message to a world that he was not in direct contact with at that time.

It was in fact through these letters that X began to recognize the start of his homemade education. It was because of a lack of an ability to convey his thoughts that X began copying the dictionary in order to become functional and articulate with the English language. Prior to attempting to enhance his reading and writing abilities, X was considered uneducated and seen as a member of society with a lesser value than one with an education. Through his prison experience and studies X educated himself far beyond his original eighth grade education.

X began copying words from the dictionary as a means to broaden his vocabulary and enhance his lexicon. His method was not complex and consisted of reviewing words he had written down from the dictionary on a daily basis and memorizing the meanings of which he was unfamiliar. X claimed that the dictionary was like a “miniature encyclopedia” and that after perfecting his literacy he could “for the first time pick up a book and read and now understand what the book was saying." Admittedly X was no longer and uneducated street hustler, but rather someone who had found a new and intrinsic value in literature.

Though X was imprisoned during this time in his life he used literacy to free his mind and overcome his demons. He wrote in his autobiography that after acquiring a friendship in books he forgot that he was imprisoned at all. In the same regard as Douglass, X faced the oppression of education while imprisoned. X was forced to read in secret at night when the inmates were supposed to be sleeping. Douglass and X each described the feeling as liberating when they finally gained access to reading and writing.

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