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The Brightest Students Don’t Get Enough Attention

As I’ve long thought, this longitudinal study of 5,000 mathematically precocious children concludes that very smart students do not get enough attention in school.

This is one of RIFI’s purposes – to provide exceptional learning to exceptional young people, whomever they may be.

What happened to “equality” for them? The equality warriors’ bottom line is to bring everyone to the same level, and that’s not the highest!

Business Insider reports “the overwhelming majority of class time was spent helping low-achieving students get to the middle.

“SMPY (“Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth,”) suggests that teachers should avoid teaching a one-size-fits-all curriculum and instead focus on doing the best they can to create individualized lesson plans for students.”

Ah, when will they learn that the Montessori program does just that and the mathematically gifted can soar as high as they can go in a Montessori classroom?

This Business Insider article is, unfortunately, illustrative of poor thinking, also, since it claims “SMPY has repeatedly found, throughout multiple follow-up analyses, that some of the smartest kids possess a great capacity for spatial reasoning.” Of course it did: it was tracking the mathematically gifted! If they had done a study of the literarily gifted, I’d bet the conclusion would have been different.

The study does have great data to plumb because of its longitudinal perspective.

A Summer Program for Students 16 and older

Get an edge on college – and life! Come to

The Great Connections Seminar

A Summer Program for Students 16 and older

Saturday, July 22-Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chicago

If you’re not a student…

Could your favorite student benefit from this program? Please forward this information.

Free yourself: Students success

Unleash your mind.

Strengthen your autonomy.

Expand your knowledge.

Experience your power to affect others.

“The seminar gave me confidence that I could achieve great things. It was like something was lit inside. I acquired the intellectual tools to help me come to my own conclusions. And I realized how lacking my formal education was. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.” Brendan Moore, Coe College

Registration is now open for
The Great Connections Seminar

Our theme this year is “Reason and Evolution”

To students…

  • Are you tired of classes where you’re told what to think?
  • Are you looking for more than memorizing information and reciting it on tests?
  • Do you want to be challenged to think for yourself?
  • Can you confidently argue for – and act on – your point of view?
  • Do you want to be prepared for today’s ever-changing markets?
  • Do you want to connect with passionate and principled students from the U.S. and abroad to discuss life’s most challenging questions…while enjoying music, dancing, architecture, and art to the fullest?

Students practicing improv techniques. If your answer is “yes,” then join us this  coming July for a unique “total immersion”  learning experience in one exciting and  challenging week of intensive classes,  interactive sessions, off-campus expeditions,  and rewarding camaraderie. It just might  change your life, as it has for previous  students.

(Students practice improvisation techniques above.]

No matter where you go to school, this unusual experience will serve you well. The knowledge and skills acquired here could prove to be your most valuable asset in college, graduate school – and life. For details, please read on…

Janessa Colomer

“I love this program! I learned how to approach [philosophical] topics, learn mathematics and found people who are motivated, determined, and proactive to further their education.” Janessa Colomer, University of California San Diego

Chicago by the river

 Preview what you’ll experience…

 

 

 

Through this program, you will:

  • Discover why philosophy is crucial to your survival and flourishing, and find the important meaning and implications for yourself in seemingly simple issues.
  • Increase your ability to ask questions that will change what you get from – and how you perform in – your classes, your job, your life.
  • Become a versatile thinker with our evidence-based discussion method applied to an extraordinary range of subjects, from philosophy to mathematics, poetry to politics.
  • Discuss the links between between theory and practice, choice and action.
  • Learn how to creatively collaborate with enthusiastic peersIvy Hood

“I learned ‘Question your teachers–if you simply soak up what they tell you, you don’t have a true understanding.” Ivy Hood, B.A. International Studies, B.S. Economics, Rockford University, 2016 Student Laureate, The Lincoln Academy of Illinois

Learn How to Write Well

Do you know how to write well and express your thoughts effectively?

Writing with skill is crucial to achieving many goals: course-work, cover letters for jobs, emails inquiring about post-doc positions, persuading others to invest in your business idea – you name it.

This year at The Great Connections, you’ll benefit from the instruction of a professional writing expert, Malachy Walsh. See all about him below.

Connect timeless principles to today’s hottest issues…

At the seminar next summer, we’ll show you how to understand and enjoy challenging works that have changed the world.

Discussions of Pythagoras, Charles Darwin, Joseph Schumpeter, and other great thinkers, will help you discover the often-hidden connections between classic principles and contemporary controversies.

Sable Levy talking with other students. “It’s four months later and  I  haven’t stopped thinking about the  seminar. At  the risk of sounding trite or  hyperbolic, I  know it has changed my life    forever.” Sable  Levy, Drew University (second  from right)

On architecture tour of Chicago.

For example:

  • Examine the nature of life and its relation to the mind in Aristotle’s DeAnima–and relate it to Darwin’s discoveries,
  • Explore a poem that was a right-turn in human intellectual evolution–and revived the Western world, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things.
  • See how Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws influenced social evolution.

We’ll delve into works from science to economics and literature – all about evolution.

Derick Ansah

“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. It’s as if he grew 2 years’ worth of  college prowess in your short one-week  course.” – Nawaphon Sittisawasakul, SUNY-  Purchase (Derick Ansah pictured at left)

See how to use The Great Connections in your life in our latest videos here.

Benefit from individual attention…

In our discussion groups (maximum of 15 students) instructors won’t force-feed you prefabricated notions. Rather, our talented faculty will teach you one of Great Connections 2013 students studying together at breakfast.the  most important lessons of all: how to grasp the  meaning of events and ideas for yourself. Why? One  of our priorities is constant interaction between  instructors and students.  Participants will work  individually  and “hands-on” with superb teachers  and mentors who will coach them one-on-one in achieving their goals.Guest speakers won’t simply deliver a lecture and depart but will be available for face-to-face discussions both in and out of class.Eric Rhodes, The Great Connections 2009“Eric spent several hours telling us about his experience in Chicago and how much it meant to him. His father and I are delighted!” Lucy Hair, mother of Eric Rhodes, University of California Riverside 

Free Yourself…

All this adds up to a culture in our seminar like no other; one which encourages and respects your individuality, ideas, and independence, and which will energize you while you free yourself to take charge of your own education and your life.

Ian Mihura and Sable Levy “We made our own society, where my ideas, my  presence and effectiveness counted. Now I know I can  make a difference.” Ian Mihura, senior, Clarin High School,  Buenos Aires (at left)

 For one transformative week, experience a superior  way of learning … and discover the culture of a rational  and free society.

Meet your instructors…

Marsha Familaro Enright Marsha Familaro Enright, Seminar Leader
 B.A. Biology, M.A., Psychology, President, The Reason,  Individualism, Freedom Institute, the Foundation for the  College of the United States

Ms. Enright brings a remarkable range of knowledge and analytical ability in both the sciences and the humanities to her role as the seminar’s lead instructor. She will guide students in class discussions throughout the week, as well as lead informative tours. Ms. Enright has extensive teaching experience with adults and adolescents in schools, conferences, and summer camps. She also writes on topics ranging from economics to esthetics, neuropsychology to politics.

In 1990, Ms. Enright founded Council Oak Montessori School for children ages 3-15. Chicago Magazine named it one of the top private schools in the city in 2006 and 2011.

Liz Parker

Liz Parker, B.S. Economics and B.A. Global Affairs,
 George Mason University
 The Great Connections Teacher Training Course

Ms. Parker has participated in more than ten Great Connections  Seminars, and co-instructed for the past three years. She brings a wide range of talents to the program from her background in art and television production, as well as economics and international relations.

Andrew Humphries, Co-Instructor, The Great Connections Andrew Humphries, Co-Instructor
 B.A. Liberal Arts, M.Ed. Montessori Integrative Learning,  Graduate student, Economics, George Mason University,  Master leader of Socratic Seminars.

A graduate of the rigorous Great Books classics program at St. John’s College, Sante Fe, Mr. Humphries is a Koch Fellow, Grover Herman Fellow, and Young Communicators Fellow of the Institute for Humane Studies. He also worked at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the high school program at The School of the Woods Montessori School, Houston, the Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi, and Michael Polanyi College at Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Guatemala City.

 MalachMalachy Walshy Walsh, Leader, The Writing Connection

 B.A. Georgetown University, M.A.  Depaul University, and  perennial  Ph.D. candidate in literature,  University of  Chicago.

In his 5-day course, The Writing Connection. Mr. Walsh will teach you how to write for any purpose, based on his 25 years of experience as a Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, and Aristotle’s Rhetoric. His passion is helping people learn how to write better, because knowing how to write well creates a lifetime of opportunities.  As a manager at Kraft put it, “Malachy shows you how to pick your own brain.” He will also be available as a professional mentor to the students. See more about him below.

Enjoy special presentations and meet exciting professionals…

Meet accomplished professionals in a variety of careers of potential interest to you. You’ll learn first-hand how they do their jobs and get personal answers to your questions. You will meet people such as Ruth Baker, J.D., Baker and Enright, Chicago and Ralph Yuan, Quantitative Researcher at a Wall Street investment firm.

Think hard, work hard, play hard…

Students Jake Ilson and Eric Rhodes swimming in Lake Michigan

Our program includes informative seminars and mind-  expanding presentations, plus adventurous off-campus  expeditions that connect classroom theory to the real world.  We will draw upon Chicago’s rich intellectual, architectuChicago lakefrontral,  cultural, and commercial  resources, capitalize upon classic films,  music, and works of art.

We’ll journey to famous museums, research facilities, business clubs, restaurants, retail stores and beyond, such as:

  • Gorgeous Grant Park
  • Lake Michigan’s Oak Street Beach,
  • The Oriental Museum on the University of Chicago campus,
  • The Second City Comedy Club, birthplace of improv and midwife to Saturday Night Live

Experience the excitement of one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in North America, Chicago. You’ll attend classes in conference rooms and live in its fully equipped apartments of Marie Robinson Hall, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. You’ll be just steps from their great recreational complex, and a short bus ride to Millennium Park, the Art Institute, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan.

Due to the individual attention each student will receive, enrollment is limited to  15 per seminar discussion group. DMarina Coll and Carolina Ciblis, Great Connections 2011on’t risk being left out –  enroll today! See complete seminar details below.

 

“It was good when people said ‘I don’t understand.’” Marina Coll, English and philosophy teacher, Our Lady of the Shelter School, Buenos Aires, Argentina (on the left in the picture)

Seminar Details
The basics: The Great Connections Seminar will begin at 3:00 PM on Saturday, July 22nd and end at midnight on Saturday July 29th. You will check out of your dorm on Sunday morning, July 30th and have the rest of the day to enjoy the city.

Location:
Marie Robinson Hall at The University of Illinois at Chicago811 W. Maxwell, Chicago, IL

Capsule schedule:
 Participants will attend seminars in the mornings, go on excursions in the afternoons, and engage in extended discussions in the evenings. Saturday afternoon/evening: An orientation and initial Socratic Seminar. Sunday to Saturday: Socratic Seminars, special presentations, excursions, meetings with professionals, extended breaks to eat and explore on your own; Saturday evening: A closing dinner and party; Sunday morning: The day is free to explore the city or return home, at your option.

Readings:
In the spring/summer, we will email links for most of the texts so that you can read them in preparation for the seminar. On the opening Saturday afternoon, you will receive a specially printed book with all the readings to use during the seminar. We highly recommend you read all selections before you arrive.

Accommodations and Meals:
 You will reside in the contemporary, air-conditioned apartments of our conference building, Marie Robinson Hall. You will have one bedroom in a 4-bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen. We will provide the opening and closing dinners. A Whole Foods and a Jewel Supermarket are 5 minutes walking from the Hall and there are many food stores, eateries and cafes nearby offering everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to Thai food and sushi for your other meals. There’s also have a cafeteria within walking distance. Students often eat together and are encouraged to make meals together in their apartments. You can sign up to use the University of Illinois at Chicago recreational facility.Transportation: Downtown Chicago is reached easily from O’Hare and Midway airports via CTA train or airport shuttle, as well as by bus and car. Links to maps, information about what to bring, and details about Chicago will be sent to you after you register.Fees: Full tuition to the program is $1,200, which includes the opening and closing dinners, and books. Room in an equipped apartment, with use of conference and entertainment facilities, is an additional $800.Fee Schedule:Before March 1st, tuition is $300, Room and Board $300Before May 1st, tuition is $500; Room and Board $500,After May 1st, tuition is $1,200 and Room and Board $800.Some scholarships are available covering tuition, room and some board (see details on the Application Form here and contact Marsha Familaro Enright at menright@rifinst.org or 773-677-6418 with any questions).

How to register for the seminar:

1. To apply online click here to go to the Application Form. After your interview and acceptance, you will be directed to a totally secure web page, where you may use your credit card to pay for the program. For your information, the payment page is here.

2. To apply by postal mail, fax, or email, click here to print out an application form. Complete and mail to 9400 S. Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60643.  After your interview and acceptance, you can mail your check to the same address, call us at 773-677-6418 to pay by phone, or pay online at our website.

The Benefits of the Great Connections Seminar College Program 2015

What Students Said About The Great Connections Seminar 2015

“The seminar is transformative; I grew as a person. Working part time in the Philippine TGC 2015 Ken and Gaetano - Version 2Congress, my biggest goal is to share what I learned with my colleagues and friends and apply it to positively affect our lives.Ken Wu, junior, University of the Philippines-Dilman, from Quezon City, Philippines

Isabel MoinoIt has surpassed my expectations! I loved it! I learned so much from everyone, the texts, the experiences and myself! I’m really happy! I’ve gained awareness of when you are accepting someone else’s opinion (author, person or institution) without inspecting their arguments and logic. It can be very dangerous to accept ideas blindly, without thinking about the consequences they may have on your own life.Isabel Moino, senior, Universidad Francisco Marroquin, from Guatemala City, Guatemala

“My bDerick Ansahiggest goal in life is to reach my highest physical and mental potential. I took away many things from the seminar, but three main lessons: 1. The reading selections allowed me to learn and incorporate a wider range of subjects. 2. Groomed analytical skills which I grew over the week. 3. The people I have met here are more similar to me on a conscious level than any other people I have ever met. I am very thankful for what I have learned from each one of them. Where I come from, people cannot even picture themselves doing what I’ve done this week; I can be an example of what everyone in my community can do for themselves.” Derick Ansah, sophomore, SUNY-Purchase, from Bronx, NY

One of the best experiences of my life and I’ll definitely be back next year, perhaGreat Connections 2015 Remy Oliverps with a good friend as well! I’ve gained more self-confidence and lost the self-doubt that weighed me down, which will be important in pursuing my job as a corporate lawyer and writer on issues.” Remy Oliver, freshman, University of Virginia, from Potomac Falls, VA

Kaitlyn Means“As the week went on, I was surprised due to the fact that each new day was even more amazing than the last.” Kaitlyn Means, senior, Brookfield-Broadview Heights High School, from Broadview Heights, Ohio

Seth Kannarr“A life-changing experience! It’s crazy how such a diverse group of people can come together and grow as a family! Super glad I had the opportunity to attend. Knowing the importance of clear definitions and coming to terms with a reading will be very useful, as well as knowing the many aspects of power. But the largest lesson this week is how to live objectively via reason, individualism, and freedom. “Seth Kannarr, senior, Harlem High School, from Machesney Park, Illinois

Nora Gibes“At Hillsdale College people have of a lot of philosophical and political debates outside of class. My impression was that engaging in these would be relatively useless because the disagreement would usually stem from a very fundamental disagreement (such as if there is a higher authority). But I learned this week that what seems to be two irreconcilable stances might actually just be two people using different definitions. I plan to use this knowledge when I get caught up in such a debate.” Nora Gibes, freshman, Hillsdale College, from Augusta, MI

Tanya Badillo“I struggle to set society’s influence aside and only focusing on what I truly want for myself. My desire of wanting to be a better person, being able to know me more. I believe that this seminar has helped me get on the path to really getting to know me, to discover what are the things that make me who I am, and to question more, and listen carefully.” Tanya Badillo, geophysical engineer, from Mexico City, Mexico

Rene MiguelI can see myself implementing a mandatory seminar to every business I might own some day. I believe that this will help them develop their reasoning skills and their collaborative structure.” Rene Miguel, sophomore, Harold Washington College, from Chicago, IL

 

 

 

Socratic Practice: A Powerful Method for Learning

“It is a sign of crudity and indigestion to throw up what we have eaten in the same condition it was swallowed down; and the stomach has not performed its office, if it has not altered the figure and shape of what was committed to it for concoction…Let the tutor make his pupil thoroughly sift everything he reads, and lodge nothing in his fancy upon mere authority…To the fragments borrowed from others he will transform and bend together to make a work that shall be absolutely his own; that is to say, his judgment. His education, labor, and study aim only at forming that.” Michael Montaigne

This is the fourth part of the four-part series on an ideal University Education; the first part is here, the second part is here, and the third part is here.

Socratic Practice is a formidable discussion methodology that, when used properly, incorporates Active Listening at its best and nurtures reasoning skills and independence powerfully. Classrooms using Socratic Practice are active learning environments—they are intellectually, socially, and physically engaging. By encouraging the learners to ask their own questions of what they are studying, the motivating power of individual interest is harnessed.  Furthermore, because they are so engaging, Socratic Practice discussions don’t tax attentional resources, making learning much easier and enjoyable; students often get into a Flow state, forgetting how much time is passing because they are engaged.

I am referring to a very specific, carefully crafted methodology of teaching, which I will describe shortly. Some of you may have been to classes called Socratic Seminars which are quite different from what I mean. In these, a teacher might ask a question like “What is justice?” and then proceed to tell students they’re wrong when they give an answer the teacher doesn’t want. However, Socratic questioning is meant to develop the student’s ability to think about a subject, not to test them and catch them when they are wrong or call them on the carpet for the right answer.

Teachers looking for the right answer encourage students to focus on pleasing the teacher, not on thinking for themselves.

Teachers looking for the right answer encourage students to focus on pleasing the teacher, not on thinking for themselves. But the truly excellent teacher aims at helping students learn how to find the right answer on their own….(read the entire article here.)

Would all children be educated in a free market?

Here’s another 5-minute clip from Kirsten Lombard, editor of Resounding Books, in which she and I talk about whether all children could be educated if there were no public schools, and how that might happen.

Note: In my last email, I made a mistake in the title of Resounding Book’s volume. It’s Common Ground On Common Core. Sorry about that – to Kirsten especially!

It’s a book of 17 essays from across the political spectrum, analyzing this latest government-promoted program for the public schools and calling for a rebellion against it. My chapter, “Liberating Education,” examines what education would be like in a fully free society, and I go into detail about the history of education here in the U.S. from the time of the Pilgrims.

The paperback is only available through Resounding Books’ website (link above). But it is available on Kindle, where my essay is in Volume II.

This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about this latest push to control our children and, through them, the country.

Regards,

Marsha Familaro Enright

 

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

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