Monday, July 6, 2009

Reflections On Chapter Three of Democracy in America

During one of my sociology classes in college, I studied Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. I recently reviewed the writings of Democracy in America again,and I found these two paragraphs quite interesting.

"It is not only the fortunes of men that are equal in America; even their acquirements partake in some degree of the same uniformity. I do not believe that there is a country in the world where, . in proportion to the population, there are so few ignorant and at the same time so few learned individuals. Primary instruction is within the reach of everybody; superior instruction is scarcely to be obtained by any. This is not surprising; it is, in fact, the necessary consequence of what I have advanced above. Almost all the Americans are in easy circumstances and can therefore obtain the first elements of human knowledge."

"In America there are but few wealthy persons; nearly all Americans have to take a profession. Now, every profession requires an apprenticeship. The Americans can devote to general education only the early years of life. At fifteen they enter upon their calling, and thus their education generally ends at the age when ours begins. If it is continued beyond that point, it aims only towards a particular specialized and profitable purpose; one studies science as one takes up a business; and one takes up only those applications whose immediate practicality is recognized."

I believe that there are quite a few similarities in these two paragraphs between America in the 19th Century and America of today. Do you believe that in present day every person has the opportunity to achieve success as it is mentioned above? It seems to me that today education is highly accessible to children in both primary and high schools, but is difficult to attain a college degree because of the increase of costs of attending college. De Toqueville states that in the 1800's primary instruction is within reach of everyone, but yet there were so few learned individuals. Are todays college financial burdens similar to the educational constraints of De Tocqueville's America? Do you see any other similarities between De Tocqueville's America and America today?

No comments: