What’s the use of studying?

I still remember the question the philosophy teacher asked on the first day of high school, “What’s the use of studying? Who can answer that?” Someone dared polite answers, “to grow well,” “to become good people.” But the unsatisfied professor shook his head. Until finally he said, “It’s for escaping from prison.”

We looked at each other in amazement. “Ignorance is a prison. Because in there you don’t understand and you don’t know what to do. We have to organize the biggest jailbreak of the century. It will not be easy, they want you stupid, but if you climb over the wall of ignorance then you will understand without having to ask for help. And it will be hard to fool you. Who’s in?”

I was reminded of that indelible episode reading that only one boy in twenty understands a text. And I think of the other nineteen, who struggle to escape and risk a life sentence of ignorance. A democratic state must save them because it is right. And because the risk then is immense: weak minds demand the strong man.

Corrado Augias

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