Well Educated Imagination-or-Schools and the American Dream

Art for Awakened Minds -or- The Origins of the American Imagination

Nowhere is the art of learning more visible than in our dreams. As the literary critic Northrop Frye says in "The Educated Imagination"; "Art, according to Plato, is a dream for awakened minds, a work of imagination withdrawn from ordinary life, dominated by the same forces that dominate the dream, and yet giving us a perspective and a dimension on reality that we don't get from any other approach to reality." 

The American Dream is in part predicated on parents providing opportunities to their children that they themselves didn't have. As part of the dream, a strong correlation has been found between education and income. President Richard Nixon is quoted as saying that; "The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep." Here is a recurring dream of a man, who apparently did not make the most of the opportunities that his parents provided for him. Something he apparently still regrets over 30 years later. 

Gerry, 53 American 

Last night I had what I call "The School Dream." I think most people have this kind of dream from time to time. It usually takes place in high school or college, and it usually involves feelings of frustration at not being able to find a classroom, or realizing that you had NEVER managed to show up for a classroom that you had been supposed to attend all semester long. 

In last night's dream I was on the campus of West Virginia University (which I actually attended from 1977 to 1981), and I realized that I was terribly late for a history class, so I started running from building to building, but for some reason I just couldn't find the classroom. And then it occurred to me that I had hardly EVER shown up for this class at all, and I knew that my parents were going to be really pissed off that they had wasted all kinds of money to enroll me in classes that I had never managed to attend. 

Imagining American History -or- The Country Roads of West Virginia University 

The past has always informed the present, unless you suffer from amnesia. The story of the past is the stuff that historians and psychotherapists work with to imagine and understand the traces of individual and collective memory and history. You believe that your parents who had their hopes and dreams for your future, (now your past), would according to you be "really pissed off that they had wasted all kinds of money to enroll" in classes you never attended. This most likely is a misinterpretation on your part. Most likely, they were pissed off that you wasted the educational opportunity they gave you, to make your own history. 

Historiography simply stated is the study of "the writing of history". From a psychological perspective we all have a developmental "psychohistory". The cultural lines of psychohistory, historiography and autobiography all meet in each and every individual and their dreams on the planet. Some historians see American literature beginning with the "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin". 

One educational path of the storied history of America leads to the University of West Virginia. From a popular music perspective the University of West Virginia's theme song is "Take Me Home Country Roads" (watch John Denver's music video). 

On a final note, to paraphrase George Santayana; Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. 

Further Reading: 

  • Susan Wise Bauer, "The Well-Educated Mind: A guide to the Classical Education You Never Had"




All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.