Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

whta can students get from fredrick douglass's story about learning to read and write?

compare our students and fredrick,about how he learned and how students are learning?

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Douglass details how he learned how to read and write in the absence of formal instruction: he befriended the poor Baltimore street boys, and, through bribery, friendship, and cunning he obtained literacy. Through observing the letters marked at the schoolyard and in young Thomas Auld's copybooks, he learned how to write. This ingenious albeit uncommon method of education reveals Douglass's ambition, perseverance, and industriousness. Many autobiographies or bildungsroman novels incorporate the attainment of literacy and the subsequent voracious reading of many books, and Douglass's contribution to the genre is no different.

One of the most influential early texts for Douglass was the Columbian Orator, a textbook on rhetoric and grammar authored by Boston schoolteacher and bookseller Caleb Bingham. In the annotations to the Yale edition of the Narrative, Douglass scholar Blassingame writes about the Orator that it "contained short extracts from speeches by such famous orators as William Pitt, George Washington, Charles James Fox, and Cicero, as well as plays and poems on the themes of patriotism, education, and freedom." It was extremely popular during its day and very helpful to Douglass as he began to mature in his understanding of history and the system of slavery.


Today, children learn to read and write in public schools; race, gender, and social status do not matter. Students do not have to hide or steal to read, they don't need money to purchase books (libraries are filled with them). Note, I am not referring to third world countries here..... many people still face the same kinds of obstacles Douglass faced. I am addressing the American educational system.