Voices of Free Minds: Irene Pickney on Plato

Free Minds really helped me explore possibilities I didn’t think I had. The professors made me feel like I was capable to do whatever I put my mind to and encouraged me to think—and that my thoughts were mine, neither right nor wrong, but mine. Now I read more and take time to really analyze my thoughts.

This is an excerpt from my essay on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”:

“Knowledge is power, freedom, and opportunity. Education is like feeding the poor a Thanksgiving feast: it nourishes your mind and gives you fuel to take on more.  Socrates states that education isn’t what some people declare it to be. Namely, putting knowledge into souls that lack it, like putting sight into blind eyes. This allegory has assisted me in facing my own reality to think of my life and how I’ve been paralyzed by a fear of failing. The reality is that I have let fear institutionalize … and hold me captive rather than face the realities of what education can do for me. The truth is that there is no limit to what anyone can learn.”

Irene Pickney is an alumna of the Free Minds Project, a college course in the humanities for disadvantaged adults. Read more in “Minds on Fire” in the January|February Alcalde, and read more student writing here.


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