Education in the United States

What is the purpose of education?

Is “school choice” the same as a free market in education?

Could education be provided entirely by the free market, with no public schools?

Do we have a stratified education system?

These are some of the issues address in Kirsten Lombard’s interview of RIFI president, Marsha Familaro Enright, each in 5-6 minute segments on the Resounding Books blog.

Enright contributed the last chapter in Resounding Books’ first publication, Common Ground on Common Core, “Liberating Education.” In it, she examines the history of education in the United States, issues with public education, and what education would be like in a free society in which it was entirely private.

Common Ground On Common Core is available in paperback only at the Resounding Books website. It is available on Kindle in four parts; Enright’s essay is in Part II.

Scholarships Are Almost Gone

Students discussing a great text in the park.



Don’t miss your opportunity to spend a week enjoying the experience of a culture of liberty available nowhere else, while learning about great ideas with peers from around the world, at The Great Connections Seminar.

You still have time to apply for this life-changing experience.

Here’s a detailed description of the week.

Apply now! If you can’t come, can you forward this information to someone else? Thank you.

A few scholarships are still available – but space is tight. Enroll today.


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Our MissionTo foster active minds:

Empowering each individual with the knowledge, reasoning skills, and independence to understand the world and build a life of adventure and creative achievement.



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University Education As It Might Be and Ought To Be

Great Connections head Marsha Familaro Enright wrote a new article on university education as it might be and out to be at The Savvy Street. This is Part I of a five part series of articles on optimal higher education. Below are the opening paragraphs from the article:

Maria Montessori on Discipline and Liberty

Standard education not only fails to teach the philosophy, history, economics, and politics of a free society, but its methods oppress individuality and instead encourage conformity and obedience. It does the opposite of teaching young people how to live as free, autonomous persons.

In the main, the teaching methods at traditional universities have remained unchanged for centuries. Most classrooms rely heavily on an authoritarian, top-down structure of a single arbiter of knowledge, often in the position of lecturer, discussion leader, and knowledge authority, who conveys knowledge to the waiting student-receptacles.

Of course, many colleges and universities are using all the bells and whistles of the latest physical technology, which makes the world’s knowledge available to their students through Internet-connected classrooms, cool electronic-writing technology, online discussion groups, and handheld quiz machines.

But the more crucial and fundamental psychological and social elements to learning are often still ignored, especially at the university level. Yet, a free future demands more than the dissemination of information; where do free individuals learn how to use it in their lives?

Given what we now know about human development, learning, and motivation, university education is ripe for a revolution in its psychological technology.

Students need an educational program that embodies the ideals of self-sufficient, self-responsible, goal seeking, and autonomous individuals. Furthermore, when freedom and autonomy are directly experienced, students become more engaged, interested, and enthusiastic learners and more often adopt the ideas and values of liberty. Such a system for lower education has been around for more than 100 years.

This is why RIFI aims at innovating higher education, starting with The Great Connections Seminar. Continue reading the article here.

Marsha Familaro Enright on Changing the Teaching Paradigm

How to Improve Reading Ability

Some new evidence has come out about the dismal reading level of most college students from Renaissance Learning’s research. Renaissance Learning is an assessment and analytics company that makes widely used online educational software for K-12 students.

Their extensive research report has quite a bit of useful information in it about how much and what students are reading, and what factors contribute to the most success in reading. A chart on page 42 shows that college freshman, on average, are assigned books rated at the 7th grade level.

Sadly, it also shows that books for adults on the New York Times bestseller lists average a 5.6 grade level for fiction and 7.6 grade level for non fiction!

At our Great Connections seminars, we read classic texts from philosophy, science, literature, history – you name it. And we read them together in such a way that students learn how to understand and read difficult, but rich, material, such as Newton’s Principia, Epictetus’ Handbook, Blake’s The Tiger, or Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy. No mere 7th grade level for our students!

Renaissance Learning’s report argues that comprehension, volume, and challenge are key factors. We find that if we help students with comprehension of the most challenging but best-written texts available, what the University of Chicago’s famed president Robert Maynard Hutchins called “The best that has been thought and said,” they will experience real competency and be encouraged read more.

Hattip Patrick Peterson.