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Malcolm X and Experiencing Education

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Monique Rizer wrote, “in my experience, there is no better motivation to finish college and to appreciate the full experience than a child whose future depends on your decisions. I had to continue to give him a better life and to set an example for him to follow” (588). Similarly, Malcolm X claims, “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Both Rizer and Malcolm X had motivations to become educated, but how they arrived at those educations were different. Rizer had her son and the thought of giving him a better future, and for Malcolm X, it was his desire to write to Elijah Muhammad. Monique Rizer’s education could be seen as “traditional” while Malcolm X’s could be considered “non-traditional.” Both Monique Rizer and Malcolm X experienced education differently, but despite how they gained it, they would both argue “education is the passport to the future.” Education isn’t only what is taught and learned in school, it’s also lived experience. In order to be educated, you must have traditional and non-traditional education because both create different skills necessary for living a successful life.

Traditional education focuses on what is taught in school from kindergarten completely through college graduates. It includes subjects taught by teachers such as Math, English, Science, and History. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an example of someone who has had a traditional education and lived a successful life. His schooling led him to achieving a PhD. Dr. King stated, that 'the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.' Dr. King’s statement teaches us that not only is intelligence important but so is character and that character is built through life experiences. It is important for people who are traditionally educated to also understand non-traditional education and its importance.

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Non-traditional or informal education is considered to be self-taught. Self-taught education is teaching one's self using sources such as books, articles, news, life experiences, etc. Malcolm X’s education would be an example of non-traditional education. Malcolm X taught himself how to speak, read and write properly while in jail for 7 years. He felt that in order to communicate with Elijah Muhammad, the man he admired and looked up to, he would have to teach himself to write properly and that’s exactly what he did. Malcolm X’s self-taught education led him to be an influential man on hundreds of thousands of people in America. Although many don’t see it as ideal, non-traditional education does not mean someone is not educated, they are just educated differently then most others are taught.

Having an education, whether it be traditional, non-traditional or a combination of both is important because it can lead you to live a successful life. Traditional and non-traditional education are both equally important while trying to gain knowledge but to be successful one does not need to have both traditional and non-traditional education. However, a combination of the two would contribute to a more complete understanding of life.

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Malcolm X and Experiencing Education. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
“Malcolm X and Experiencing Education.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
Malcolm X and Experiencing Education. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Mar. 2024].
Malcolm X and Experiencing Education [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 Mar 2]. Available from:
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