For a guy who never learned to read or write, Papa sure puts a lot of stock in education. He is absolutely adamant that Rob should continue in school and "get all the teaching [he] can hold" (12.100). Papa knows that many people see him as less of a person simply because he's not educated, and he doesn't want that to happen to Rob. But at the same time, Papa also recognizes that there are sources of knowledge beyond those of a traditional education—this "earthy reason," as he calls it, is just as important to a rounded life. And as much as we love our books, we have to say we totally agree.
Questions About Education
Which kind of knowledge do you think Papa values more, the education Rob gets at school or the "reason" that ensures a man will build a sturdy barn or plant his corn in straight rows? Which do you think is more important?
Do you think Papa would have stressed the importance of education as much with his daughters? Or do you think he only sees education as important for boys?
How would Rob's life have been different if Papa had been an educated man?
What can we make of the episode with Aunt Matty? What might the author be trying to tell us about educated people and their attitudes towards less-educated people?
Chew on This
While Papa clearly values education, the book shows that the virtues Papa himself has—determination, honesty, a belief in hard work—are ultimately more important than book learning.
Papa sees education as Rob's path out of poverty, which is why he so wants Rob to stay in school.