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Confessions of a Miseducated Man by Norman Cousins, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 603

Essay

In his book, Confessions of a Miseducated Man, Norman Cousins, a well-educated man, states that he is actually a miseducated man, something many people are for various reasons.  He questions whether his education was sufficient for the world of his today or if it only equipped him to understand and live in the world of approximately half or more of a century ago. He did not, however, see his education as a complete loss because he had learned enough about many things so as not to be surprised by some of the situations he would encounter.  As examples, he says that he was not surprised that some people lived in mud huts while others lived in bamboo cottages; that some people burned wood for fuel and others used dung; or that some people decided to become vegetarians simply because they wanted to do so while others made the choice based on their religious beliefs.

Then, importantly, Cousins goes on to say that his education had, however, not prepared him to realize that the main significance of these differences was that there was none.  “The differences were all but wiped out by the similarities.”Hopefully, the educators of today are teaching their students to understand this, to realize that while cultures may have different components to them, they, nevertheless, have more similar ones than different ones.  For example, cultures may have different ethnic dress and food dishes, but the similarities here are that they all possess ethnic dress and ethnic food dishes.  When people realize this and respect  each other’s choices, then cooperation and peace can prevail.  Cousins goes on to say that his education had failed to teach him that there is a simple reality to all of this, which is is that the human community is one.  As a result, Cousins says that in order for him to get along with people from all over the world he had to forget the things that he had been taught to remember. This is something that people living and working in multi-cultural countries have to do as well in order for positive interactions to exist.

Cousins states that at one point an education in differences was all that was necessary because it fulfilled people’s curiosity about other cultures and also helped them to plan unusual vacations.  This was, however, not enough to build on.  When the great compression came, the focus of education had to change to a liberation from tribalism.  Cousins wrote that “the new education had to teach man the most difficult lesson of all:  to look at someone anywhere in the world and to recognize the image of himself.  It had to be an education in self recognition.”  This is being taught today, although some institutions are doing a better job of it than others.

What is important globally is that people have the ability to think even though they do not all follow the same pathway; that they are capable of spiritual belief even though they do not all subscribe to the same faith; that they are capable of creating print and using it to communicate; and that they can respond deeply to colors, forms, and ordered sounds.

Finally, to avoid being a miseducated person, in addition to the foregoing, institutions need to teach the basic human needs of water, food, oxygen, warmth, and land, and to instill in their students how to use their self-understanding in the cause of human welfare.  Leadership in such an endeavor requires only the concern for human destiny.  People will respond. (Cousins).

Works Cited

Cousins, N.  Confessions of a Miseducated Man.  Copyright 2000 – 2008.  Retrieved on February 23, 2013, from http://englishonline.gznu.edu.cn/wsjs/englishmajor.

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