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philosophical foundation

The Educational Liberty Alliance has heard from concerned parents and teachers that they need assistance articulating the ways in which freedom of thought and expression are so important in the educational setting. Taking on the mantle, the ELA has asked several well-regarded educators to expound on certain philosophical quotes that we have selected and to flesh out their relevance to the learning process, to academic excellence, and to the betterment of society generally. We will post each of the essays as they become available. 

 

Interested parents and teachers can use these essays in any way that they find helpful as they seek to preserve the freedoms that are foundational to an educational environment. For example, a parent running for the school board may rely on the essays for inspiration, parents and teachers may use them to articulate their concerns and enlist their peers to join in the effort, and parents and teachers can use the essays to persuade school board members and administrators to adopt a statement in favor of freedom of thought and to honor it. 

 

We look forward to hearing about the impact that these essays have on discussions about freedom of thought and expression in schools across the country. Please use our contact portal to share your stories with us.

power of one's own thoughts

"Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power."

 

-Frederick Douglass

pursuit of truth 

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

 

-J. S. Mill, On Liberty

Essay forthcoming 

opportunity for self discovery

"The teacher ought also to be especially on his guard against taking unfair advantage of the students' immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher’s own opinions before the student has had an opportunity fairly to examine other opinions upon the matters of question, and before he has sufficient knowledge and ripeness in judgment to be entitled to form any definitive opinion of his own."

 

-American Association of University Professors Declaration of Principles, 1915

Essay forthcoming 

freedom to decide 

"The idea that you’d have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time … runs contrary to everything we believe about education. That might work in the Soviet Union, but that doesn’t work here. That's not who we are." 

 

-President Barack Obama

Essay forthcoming

value of complete knowledge

"It is funny how mortals always picture [demons like] us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out."  

 

-C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Essay forthcoming

gratitude for contrary opinions 

"If there are any persons who contest a received opinion, let us thank them for it, open our minds and listen to them, and rejoice, that there is someone to do for us what we ought do for ourselves.”

 

-J. S. Mill 

Essay forthcoming