ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Captive to Education: The Negative Side of Academic Learning

Updated on July 13, 2015


Education prevents people from attaining complete freedom since education reveals to people limitations of thought. For instance, Frederick Douglass learning of his lifelong unjustified servitude to whites prevents him from thinking otherwise. Additionally, education teaches conformity by forcing convergent thinking onto people. Furthermore, education stunts the growth of divergent thinking and without education possibilities are endless in one’s mind. Similarly, education restrains people from innovative freedom by restricting people to conform to the culture they live in. Nonetheless, people believe education breeds freedom by allowing them to profit in society. On the contrary, education destroys freedom by forcing societal norms on people.

Frederick Douglass: Captivity of Knowledge

Frederick Douglass’ education made him captive in his cell of knowledge. For example, Douglass when referring to learning how to read states, “It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy." In other words, Douglass’s education has shown him that he is a slave, without the possibility of escaping from slavery. Additionally, Douglass even “envied [his] fellow-slaves for their stupidity,” because Douglass knew he was trapped in his education, while the other slaves were ironically free. Douglass’s education merely showed him the boundaries he lived in, further enslaving Douglass by revealing to him that he is a slave. To put it another way, all slaves who do not know of their condition could believe in any happy cockamamie idea about their condition, thus having more freedom than Douglass, who knows the truth because of his education and is tormented by it.

The Death of Thinking Outside the Box

Indeed, possibilities are endless without an education, because education destroys divergent thinking, nailing people to one answer, which is convergent thinking. “Convergent thinking is oriented towards deriving the single best (or correct) answer to a clearly defined question” (Fielding), while divergent thinking is oriented towards finding as many answers as possible to a question. Education targets convergent thinking, and with only one answer there is no room for flexibility or creativity. Studies even show that divergent thinking is strong in kids who have not yet been educated, but kids who have been educated lose their sense of divergent thinking as they learn more and more (RSA Animate). This is because in education, an answer is either right or wrong. However, mankind does not and cannot know the answer to every question, so the use of only convergent thinking in education is ridiculous. On the other hand, divergent thinking leads to unlimited possibilities, freeing people to make any choice, or believe anything they desire. Nevertheless, education still persists and succeeds in making people conform to one answer. Conformity is not what people should be seeking; instead, people should be seeking innovation to succeed with their own creative minds.

Education Reinforces Conformity

Furthermore, conformity, as the result of education, is necessary for a society to function. Consequently, citizens must be limited to certain views and thoughts in order to be a part of a society, which corrodes freedom. Likewise, John F. Kennedy stated, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” This is true because conformity repels conformists from thinking for themselves; therefore, leaving conformists subservient to whomever commands them or their master, relinquishing their personal freedom. In order for people to think entirely for themselves they must deny education. In contrast, some may argue that education allows people to think for themselves; however, education simply forces people to accept information, thus conforming to the information and limiting their own thoughts. For instance, a history teacher tells his class that the Declaration of Independence was created in 1776 by the Founders of the United States. No proof can be offered to the class that the document was created in that time period or by the Founders. Nonetheless, the class must conform to this information, while taking a test in order to get a good grade, so the class can benefit in American society. This example of conformity in education reveals that citizens must conform to benefit in society, thus surrendering their freedom to the society to which citizens belong.

Success is Slavery

However, some citizens earnestly believe education breeds freedom simply because education fosters success, but these citizens are mistaken because they do not realize that success in society requires conformity. George Washington Carver as one of those citizens, stated, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” On the contrary, education slams shut the door of freedom as it does with people’s minds, because education rots the brain by forcing it into conformity with societal norms. For example, if an American man killed his entire family and then himself, citizens in America would unquestionably be horrified and disgusted with the man for committing such a gruesome felony. This is because these citizens have been taught that killing is wrong and an awful taboo; but they did not open their minds to the idea of killing others and this denies citizens the complete freedom of thought. Although, if every citizen was open to the idea of killing and not taught these rules and regulations that prevent them from creating chaos and anarchy, our society could not possibly function at all. Since society relies on social contracts between people (Locke), agreements are necessary for society to exist, and since contracts always have restrictions it follows that citizens must be restricted in order to be a part of society, denying them complete freedom. Consequently, if citizens do not follow the social contracts society has set forth, then those citizens would not be able to succeed in society. In fact citizens would fail entirely in society. So, in order to succeed in society, citizens must at least follow the restrictions their society has, which ultimately takes away their freedom. Additionally, these boundaries are forced into these citizens’ minds with education. Likewise, citizens are constantly taught conformity is beneficial with both positive and negative reinforcement, keeping citizens in line and preventing them from breaking rules. Ultimately, since education teaches conformity and the restriction of society by making these rules a part of citizen’s conscious, Carver is wrong for teaching “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”


Education, locks people out of “the golden door of freedom” by only teaching people of limitations, thus shortening instead of broadening thought. We need to follow the advice of Socrates and accept that nothing can be known. When we do this, all the limitations melt away and we find that we are finally free in the most pure sense. To put it another way, education only teaches us lies that are crafted into truths.


Carver, George. "George Washington Carver Quotes." BrainyQuote. BookRags Media Network, n.d.. Web. 10 Oct 2011.

Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave." 1997. SunSITE. Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE, n.d. Web. 28 Sept 2011.

Fielding, Robert. "Convergent and divergent thinking ." Encouraging creativity in education. Encouraging creativity in education, 19 April 2009. Web. 2 Oct 2011.

Kennedy, John. “John F. Kennedy Quotes.” BrainyQuote. BookRags Media Network, n.d.. Web. 10 Oct 2011.

Leeson, Susan, Margaret Branson, Scott Casper, and Charles Quigley. We the People The Citizens & The Constitutions. 1st. 1. Calabasas: Center for Civic Education, 2009. 16-18. Print.

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms . Dir. theRSAorg. theRSAorg, 2010. Web. 2 Oct 2011.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      3 years ago

      Very good points you make here. There is a down side to everything.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)