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James Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG Technologies

Dynamic New Board Members Join RIFI
The Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute 
Welcomes New Board Members As Part of Growth

Chicago, IL (September 10, 2017) RIF Institute is excited to announce the enhancement of its higher education work by the addition of James Kandrac and Sable Levy to its Board of Trustees, and Malachy Walsh and Mimi Gladstein to its Advisory Board as part of its plan to expand to a new, 9-month Gap Year program.

Board of Trustees

James Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG TechnologiesJim Kandrac, founder and CEO of UCG Technologies, has helped RIF Institute’s Great Connections Seminar ever since he attended a weekend program in 2010.

He found us while looking for a Montessori college for his daughters. (The Great Connections program is based on the Montessori philosophy of education as applied to the young adult level of development.) Two years ago he talked to the students about his life and career, and spoke about the issues on this video, detailing the problems he sees in education and how The Great Connections solves them.

Jim has been actively involved in student programs in his hometown area of Cleveland-Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Ohio for many years and plans to tap into his connections to benefit our program. He brings great energy, ideas, and  to our organization as it is on the cusp of creating new, expanded programming.

Jim says: “I am pleased to join the RIFI board because I want to contribute by making a positive impact on the lives of young men and women.

“Being an entrepreneur and business owner for 30 years, I have seen a significant decline in the preparedness and quality of students coming out of universities. College seems to have become an extension of high school. Most students learn once they get out into the “real world” because they have not been challenged to think creatively for themselves and solve problems. They are force fed what to think and believe.

“I have attended the RIFI adult program and enjoyed participating and presenting at the RIFI summer program for young adults in Chicago. I have witnessed first hand how, in just one week, the curriculum has enlightened students to be much better prepared for life. I am very excited to start working with Marsha and the board in developing and bringing to fruition the RIFI nine-month Gap program for high school and college students.”

Sable Levy, member of The Levy Family Foundation and Socratic Sable Levy, member of The Levy Family Foundation and Socratic Sable LevyProgrammer for the Texas Millennial InstituteProgrammer for the Texas Millennial Institute, adds her deep love of our program to her incisive insights about the Millennial mind—both of which benefit our efforts. Sable first attended The Great Connections as a student in 2012, where she found it a life-transforming experience. Today she is completing her degree in Actuarial Science at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.

“The Great Connections Seminar has profoundly enriched my life over the past five years. It’s an honor to now be a part of the RIFI board and to help share the tools of intellectual independence with ever-greater numbers of students.”

Murray I. Franck, J.D. (1943-2017)

As we welcome these dynamic new trustees, we mourn the passing of our Founding Trustee, Murray I. Franck, J.D. this year. Murray served as a wise intellectual and legal counsel to RIFI since its creation in 2005. An expert on intellectual property and a writer on the philosophy of law and ethics, he had been the head of Patents and Trademarks of Revlon Corporation, and had taught law at Baruch College, New York, NY before his retirement. We miss him terribly!

Board of Advisors

Mimi Gladstein, Ph.D., professor of English and Theater Arts at the University of Texas, El PasoMimi Gladstein, Ph.D., is a professor of English and Theater Arts at the University of Texas, El Paso. Among her many accomplishments, she is the author of five books, four on Ayn Rand, and co-editor of two. One of her co-edited books, The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes: Selected Works of José Antonio Burciaga, which won an American Book Award, a Southwest Book Award, and a Latino Book Award. She has received international recognition, including the John J. and Angeline Pruis Award, for teaching Steinbeck and the Burkhardt Award for Steinbeck scholarship. Gladstein’s scholarly articles cover subjects as diverse as feminism in the Harry Potter series and bilingual wordplay in Hemingway and Steinbeck. She has also been recognized as a distinguished teacher for her service to students.

“I joined the RIFI board because I believe in its mission of educating our young people to use reason. It is more important than ever in contrast to the claptrap of emotion and the perversion of self-esteem promoted in the public schools. The future of our country depends on it.”

Malachy Walsh, retired Madman, brings us his decades of experience asMalachy Walsh, retired Madman, brings us his decades of experience as Creative Director at J. Walter ThompsonCreative Director at J. Walter Thompson which included such campaigns as “The Few, the Proud, the Marines” and Tony the Tiger’s “That’s grrreat!” He combines this expertise with his deep love of the Great Books classics and brings it all to bear on The Great Connections. In addition to teaching our students how to write like professionals, Malachy led a branding session for us in May where we discovered some keys to the marketing of The Great Connections. We’re now putting those discoveries into place.

“I welcomed a lifetime in advertising because it embodies the American promise that life can be better.

“I welcomed a lifelong commitment to Great Books education because I believe that a better life comes from the better thinking of Reason, from the unique gifts and creativity of Individuals, and from the Freedom to forward those ideals.

“I now welcome the opportunity to serve with Great Connections, so I can work with likeminded people who want to leave the world a bit better than we found it.

“As an ad guy from the wonders-never-cease world of Cheez Whiz and ‘Isn’t it amazing!’, I also hope I can contribute a sense of fun and self discovery to our projects.

“Thank you for making me feel welcome.”

Please keep a look-out for our upcoming news about the Gap Year Program! If you are interested in learning more, please call or write to us at 773-677-6418 or menright@rifinst.org. Thank you for your interest!

Tutor Lauds Student Transformation from Great Connections Seminar

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.

Derick Ansah, Great Connections Student

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.

Hi Marsha!

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!

Sincerely,
Nawaphon

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.

Derick Ansah on his experience at The Great Connections Seminar

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!

 

RIFI Founder Visits Atlanta to Speak About Education Reform

On January 24, 2016, RIFI Founder and President Marsha Familaro Enright presented a guest lecture on “The Collectivist Control of Education and What Education Could Look Like in a Free Society” at the Atlanta Objectivist Society.

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To the packed room of people concerned about the destructive direction of education, Ms. Enright’s presentation generated a stream of great questions and conversation. The audience was particularly interested in the picture of  what education could be like if it were in a free, competitive market.

It’s evident that people are becoming more aware of the continuing control of academia by the left and how education is being used to transform young people into sheepish conformists. Ms. Enright discussed the ways in which the new left has achieved these aims, analyzing the psychology, history, even fashion prom dresses and economic reasons behind our current state of education. As a tonic to that gloomy situation, Ms. Enright provided a surprising picture of what education could be like in a fully free society, with some ideas as to how to get there.

See photos from the event on Facebook here. Like our page to stay up to date on upcoming talks and seminars for students and adults!

Read More

Common Ground on Common Core

 

To read more on this topic, see Ms. Enright’s four-part series of articles on The Savvy Street, starting with University Education As It Might Be And Ought To Be, Part I and Part II.

 

You can also read more about the current push for standardized learning in public education and the opposition from across the political spectrum in Common Ground on Common Core. In the last chapter, “Liberating Education” by Marsha Familaro Enright, she recounts the origins of the American love of education and the history of public education in the U.S. and details what education could be like in a free market.

Hear The Lecture

To hear Marsha Familaro Enright speak on this topic, please join us at the Maryland Objectivist Society on Sunday afternoon, February 28th in Columbia, MD (just outside of Washington, D.C.). To engage her as a speaker, contact Marsha Familaro Enright at menright@rifinst.org.

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.)