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The Muse of Education sits next to a lamp, representing learning, which burns fiercely despite broad daylight. With one hand she steadies a ball which represents open-mindedness and lack of prejudice. In the other hand she holds an open two-pointed compass, a traditional way of symbolizing such dual disciplines as logic and philosophy or grammar and letters. The compass as poised above two books and a scroll suggests the educated person should take the measure of what he or she is taught. The identity of the small figure in the background is unclear. It may be a monkey or small ape, a traditional symbol of the arts and letters, underscoring the importance of imitation in learning.

Source: Michigan History Magazine (January/February 1999)