Formal and Informal Education: A Comparison

Both Fredrick Douglass and Eudora Welty are renowned American writers. However, the method through which each one of the leant the art of writing are very different. Douglass went through informal education. He was a slave and by law, slaves in America were not supposed to get education. He struggles to learn how to read and write in his master’s house. Welty on the other hand, goes through formal education in Jefferson Davis grammar school, which presumably has very high standard of learning and a lot of competition and emphasis on excellence. However, despite the differences, they both achieve considerable success in their quest for knowledge. The difference between formal and informal education is the duration and efforts that one take to complete the cycle, but both forms surely leads to their respective beholders to their destinations.

Douglass was a slave in Hugh’s house for seven years. During his early years as a slave, her mistress treats him very well. She even takes the responsibility of being his instructor and teaches him the alphabets. However, the master is not amused by the wife’s action and he does stop the wife from taking further lessons with Douglass. The mistress at first seems unhappy with the decision of her husband to stop her from instructing Douglass, but with time all those things heals and the mistress is convinced, convinced that education and slavery cannot be coupled, a fact that she seems to understand better than the husband. She changes her character and dreads to see Douglass reading even a news paper.

She makes sure that he does not get any reading as she considers reading of the slave dangerous. However Douglass is unstoppable for his passion to read. He says that it was too late to stop him because “the first step had already been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.” (p.144). this indicates how leaning the alphabets had motivated Douglass to learn how to read and write.

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