Good information to know about colleges you may be going to or donating to; do you want to attend or support an institution that disinvites speakers whom are controversial, thereby suppressing free speech and real debate?
“Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co- workers.
“Those traits, often called soft skills, can make the difference between a standout employee and one who just gets by.” – claims a recent Wall Street Journal article, Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply – WSJ.
Students who come to The Great Connections Seminars develop those pronto. Their increase in these skills in one-week is astonishing. Great Connections 2016 student Saulo Maciel, junior in Communications from Campo Grande, Brazil said “I learned more here in one week than in ten years at school.”
Bending children to the needs of the state go back much farther than Common Core. Hear about the failure of public education to teach most of its students — since its inception in Massachusetts in the early 19th century.
What kind of education fosters the habits and virtues needed for in a free society, where independent, active, versatile, and self-responsible citizens are crucial? What would the education market look like in a fully free society, with entirely private education? Hear my answers and the way in which everyone would be served by private interests.
My talk at The Heartland Institute, Wednesday, August 10, 2016. Read Common Ground on Common Core, edited by Kirsten Lombard, for the complete, referenced account.
He notes that the Department of Education didn’t come into being until 1980, but large-scale involvement of the federal government in education dates from 1965. In this piece he delves into the historical justifications and evolution of how education came under federal guidance, and based on its track record whether it should remain so. In the age of Common Core, of public education disappointing parents and failing children, it is an enlightening piece that’s worth a read in its entirety. Here are some important highlights:
On whether the Department of Education is constitutional:
“At the time the Constitution was written, education was not even considered a function of local government, let alone the federal government. But the shakiness of the Department of Education’s constitutionality goes beyond that. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the things over which Congress has the power to legislate. Not only does the list not include education, there is no plausible rationale for squeezing education in under the commerce clause. I’m sure the Supreme Court found a rationale, but it cannot have been plausible.
On a more philosophical level, the framers of America’s limited government had a broad allegiance to what Catholics call the principle of subsidiarity. In the secular world, the principle of subsidiarity means that local government should do only those things that individuals cannot do for themselves, state government should do only those things that local governments cannot do, and the federal government should do only those things that the individual states cannot do. Education is something that individuals acting alone and cooperatively can do, let alone something local or state governments can do.”
On whether there are serious problems in education that can be solved only at the federal level:
“The first major federal spending on education was triggered by the launch of the first space satellite, Sputnik, in the fall of 1957, which created a perception that the United States had fallen behind the Soviet Union in science and technology. The legislation was specifically designed to encourage more students to go into math and science, and its motivation is indicated by its title: The National Defense Education Act of 1958. But what really ensnared the federal government in education in the 1960s had its origins elsewhere—in civil rights. The Supreme Court declared segregation of the schools unconstitutional in 1954, but—notwithstanding a few highly publicized episodes such as the integration of Central High School in Little Rock and James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi—the pace of change in the next decade was glacial.
Was it necessary for the federal government to act? There is a strong argument for “yes,” especially in the case of K-12 education. Southern resistance to desegregation proved to be both stubborn and effective in the years following Brown v. Board of Education. Segregation of the schools had been declared unconstitutional, and constitutional rights were being violated on a massive scale. But the question at hand is whether we need a Department of Education now, and we have seen a typical evolution of policy. What could have been justified as a one-time, forceful effort to end violations of constitutional rights, lasting until the constitutional wrongs had been righted, was transmuted into a permanent government establishment. Subsequently, this establishment became more and more deeply involved in American education for purposes that have nothing to do with constitutional rights, but instead with a broader goal of improving education.”
On the federal government’s track record in education:
“As I documented in my book, Real Education, collateral data from other sources are not as detailed, nor do they go back to the 1940s, but they tell a consistent story. American education had been improving since World War II. Then, when the federal government began to get involved, it got worse.
I will not try to make the case that federal involvement caused the downturn. The effort that went into programs associated with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in the early years was not enough to have changed American education, and the more likely causes for the downturn are the spirit of the 1960s—do your own thing—and the rise of progressive education to dominance over American public education. But this much can certainly be said: The overall data on the performance of American K-12 students give no reason to think that federal involvement, which took the form of the Department of Education after 1979, has been an engine of improvement.”
On the education of the disadvantaged, especially minorities:
“What about the education of the disadvantaged, especially minorities? After all, this was arguably the main reason that the federal government began to get involved in education—to reduce the achievement gap separating poor children and rich children, and especially the gap separating poor black children and the rest of the country.
The most famous part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was Title I, initially authorizing more than a billion dollars annually (equivalent to more than $7 billion today) to upgrade the schools attended by children from low-income families. The program has continued to grow ever since, disposing of about $19 billion in 2010 (No Child Left Behind has also been part of Title I).
Supporters of Title I confidently expected to see progress, and so formal evaluation of Title I was built into the legislation from the beginning. Over the years, the evaluations became progressively more ambitious and more methodologically sophisticated. But while the evaluations have improved, the story they tell has not changed. Despite being conducted by people who wished the program well, no evaluation of Title I from the 1970s onward has found credible evidence of a significant positive impact on student achievement. If one steps back from the formal evaluations and looks at the NAEP test score gap between high-poverty schools (the ones that qualify for Title I support) and low-poverty schools, the implications are worse. A study by the Department of Education published in 2001 revealed that the gap grew rather than diminished from 1986—the earliest year such comparisons have been made—through 1999.
That brings us to No Child Left Behind. Have you noticed that no one talks about No Child Left Behind any more? The explanation is that its one-time advocates are no longer willing to defend it. The nearly-flat NAEP trendlines since 2002 make that much-ballyhooed legislative mandate—a mandate to bring all children to proficiency in math and reading by 2014—too embarrassing to mention.
In summary: the long, intrusive, expensive role of the federal government in K-12 education does not have any credible evidence for a positive effect on American education.”
Read Charles Murray’s entire piece here.
From Arthur Koestler’s fascinating autobiography Arrow in the Blue, he describes the crucial reasons for what we do at The Great Connections:
“For people who regard mathematics as dry and the sciences as boring, this kind of mentality is difficult to understand. It is a peculiarity of our present civilisation that the average educated person will be ashamed to admit that a work of art is beyond his comprehension although, in the same breath, he will proclaim not without pride his complete ignorance of the laws which make his electric switch work, or govern the heredity of his offspring. He uses his radio set and the countless gadgets surrounding him with no more comprehension of what makes them function than a savage. He lives in an artificial world of cheap, mass-produced mysteries which he is too lazy to penetrate, without any understanding of the objects which he manipulates and is, in consequence, mentally isolated from his immediate environment. Our whole higher educational system is designed to foster this lopsided mentality, to create indifference towards the laws of nature, a deficiency comparable to myopia or colourblindness.
Given these circumstances, and the ways in which science is taught in our schools, it is difficult to convey a child’s delight and excitement in penetrating the mysteries of the Pythagorean triangle, or of Kepler’s laws of planetary movement, or of Planck’s theory of quanta. It is the excitement of the explorer who, even though his goal is limited and specialised, is always driven by an unconscious, childlike hope of stumbling upon the ultimate mystery. The Phoenician galleys journeyed over uncharted seas to find the Pillars of Hercules, and even Captain Scott may have been unknowingly tempted by the hope that perhaps there really was a hole at the South Pole in which the earth’s axis turned on bearings of ice. From the star-gazers of Babylon down to the great artist-scientists of the Renaissance, the urge to explore was one of man’s vital drives, and even in Goethe’s day it would have been as shocking for an educated person to say that he took no interest in science as to declare that he was bored with art. The increasing volume of facts and the specialisation of research have made this interest gradually dry up and become a monopoly of technicians and specialists. From the middle of the nineteenth century onward, physics, chemistry, biology, and astrophysics began to fade out as ingredients of a rounded education. However, in pre-Relativistic days it was still just possible for the non-specialist to keep abreast of general developments in science. I grew up during the closing years of that era, before science became so formalised and abstract that it was removed from the layman’s grasp. Atoms still moved in three-dimensional space and should be represented to the senses by models—little glass spheres revolving around a nucleus like planets around the sun. Space was still non-curved, the world infinite, the mind a rational clockwork. There was no fourth dimension, and there was no subconscious id—that fourth dimension of the mind which transforms straight lines into crooked lines, and the deductions of reason into a web of self-delusions.”
Last fall we received an email message in response to our Report on The Great Connections 2015 Summer Seminar about Derick Ansah, a spectacular student we had the pleasure of having with us last summer.
When Derick went back to school that fall, RIFI Founder and President Marsha Familaro Enright received an email from Nawaphon Sittisawassakul at the SUNY/Purchase Economics Department. The kind of growth described in his email about Derick is exactly what we aim to provide for all students at The Great Connections Seminar. It’s a touching message that we wanted to share with you. Transformations like Derick’s make The Great Connections Seminar such a valuable and meaningful experience for young people today.
The update you sent me looked awesome. It’s very cool to see Derick Ansah go through all that along with your other students from around the world. To tell you the truth, when I met him again at the beginning of this fall semester, it was like meeting a completely new person.
Derick had changed mentally and spiritually so much in the short months of the summer break and I think it had to do hugely because of your program. He’s now more critical and analytical of works and ideologies while in the Econ classes lectures, talks, and seminars. His question-asking manner in class has also increased in acuity and form. It’s as if he grew 2 years worth of college prowess in your short 1 week course. A lot of college students don’t get enough of this critical thinking and these deep analytical skills taught to them at most colleges in America today, which is sad.
He tells me that you dream of making your one week summer course into a full time school one day, I hope that your dream happens because America needs more of this.
George S. Clason, successful businessman and author of The Richest Man in Babylon, once said “Our prosperity as a nation depends upon the personal financial prosperity of each of us as individuals…our acts can be no wiser than our thoughts. Our thinking can be no wiser than our understanding.” Benjamin Franklin also once said that with all our getting, get understanding.
I find that you’re at the forefront of helping our kids understand not just themselves better, but the world, and the inner working of humanity as a whole. This can and will translate itself deeper down the line into a stronger, more prosperous society.
Thank you for all that you do, Marsha!
During the seminar, Derick was a natural leader whose affable, inquisitive nature brought TGC students together and helped tremendously to create an open and inviting environment. Throughout the week, it was evident that many of the ideas were new and challenging to him, and he worked hard to improve himself. What was admirable in Derick was that he always aimed to understand things for himself and connect the ideas with other texts and activities throughout the week, especially drawing from his own life experience. His attitude of openness and his enthusiasm to learn and challenge himself encouraged others to push themselves outside of comfort their zones as well.
Not only are other’s noticing Derick’s growth in intellectual prowess, he himself knows how he has grown. The effective methodology of The Great Connections Seminar creates an environment where students can discover within themselves their own powers and abilities. This self-empowerment allows students like Derick to walk away with the confidence that they can be an active leader in their own learning and life.
If you know a young person or student aged 16 and up who could benefit from a transformative experience like Derick’s, take a look at what this summer’s Great Connections Seminar has to offer. Scholarships and early registration rates are available now!
We’re pleased to announce that on Sunday, February 28, 2016, RIFI Founder and President Marsha Familaro Enright will be guest lecturing at The Maryland Objectivist Society on “The Collectivist Control of Education and What Education Could Be Like in a Free Society.”
Her talk coincides with the International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC) in Washington, D.C., where RIFI will be exhibiting to promote The Great Connections Seminar in Chicago. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out both events!
In her talk, Ms. Enright will discuss how public education costs most of us a pretty penny in taxes, yet yields poor outcomes:
- making many of us pay twice – first in taxes and then in private school tuition;
- depriving of choice the children of the less well-off, who can’t escape to private schools;
- failing to provide crucial knowledge, reasoning power, motivation, and work skills.
As technology drives the job market, requiring higher and higher skills, the situation is only getting worse – more and more individuals are being left behind, unable to adequately and honorably support themselves.
In her talk Ms. Enright will address:
- What’s driving the decline in the quality of education – the historical, economic, psychological and political reasons;
- The bright spots of hope and the real reasons for optimism in our current educational situation;
- The surprising picture of what education could be like in a freer society, with some ideas as to how to get there; and
- What individuals can do to hasten this better future for them and their children.
Come to hear and meet Marsha as well as other concerned parents, taxpayers and civic minded individuals about what can be done to create a better future in education.
Marsha Familaro Enright is an author and speaker on, among other topics, human development, psychology, and creativity. Many of her interviews are available to watch online.
She is the creator of The Great Connections Summer Seminar, a week-long, liberal arts course for students 16 and up, focuses on classic texts across the ideological spectrum, including those of the philosophy, economics, politics, and history of freedom. Its evidence-based discussion principles significantly increase student reasoning power, as well as collaborative work skills. The program has a transformative effect on most students who attend, radically increasing their autonomy. Learn more at www.thegreatconnections.org.
WHEN: Sunday, February 28, 2016 from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
WHERE: PGAMA, Executive Boardroom – 9685 Gerwig Lane Columbia, MD 21046
Hear students talk about why they find The Great Connections higher education program so powerful. 3 1/2 minutes.
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