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A Devastating Broadside Against Government-Run Education,
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This review is from: The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System (Hardcover)
Completing his fourth book in six years, Ron Paul delivers a devastating broadside against the State in this piercing and insightful masterpiece about education. It has many hidden gems, as one would expect from Dr. Paul. However, I found a few shortcomings that are worth mentioning.
In the preface, Ron Paul shares his personal experience, including some facts I did not know about him. In the introduction, Dr. Paul shares his motivations, which do not come as a surprise. He has suggested to us that phase two of the revolution should be education and training of the next generation of students, and to win the battle for hearts and minds one student at a time. From my personal experience, as a Liberty organizer and father of three, I wholeheartedly embrace this concept.
In chapter one, "Educating for Liberty," Dr. Paul asserts that there can be no extension of liberty without personal responsibility. He then shows how the violation of this principle gives license to the Nanny State, which we residents in the People's Republic of Maryland know all too well. People in other states laugh at the tyranny we permit. Further, Dr. Paul shows the linkage between libertarians and conservatives through the issue of education. There is much common ground for both camps to appreciate. The libertarian cannot be free if everyone around him has become a zombie for Big Government. Likewise, the traditional conservative will have neither virtue nor order if the Nanny State is omnipresent. Ron Paul does not directly address these ideas, but conservative-libertarians familiar with the fusionism of the mid-20th century will appreciate the potential for the education issue to reunite the warring factions within the Republican Party. People must once again learn to self-govern if they wish to be free. "There can be no increase of liberty without a parallel increase in responsibility." "Self-government is the basis of liberty."
Chapter two, "Educating for Leadership," was incredibly insightful. Dr. Paul provides a book reference I have not read by Leonard Read of the Old Right. "Reforming the world begins with reforming ourselves," Dr. Paul tells us. He emphasizes the importance of integrity, trust, and ethics. Many in the Liberty movement would do well to read this chapter.
Chapter three, "Educating for Legacy," Ron Paul makes the distinction between vocation and calling. I was absolutely delighted to see him recommend the book "Dedication and Leadership" by Douglas Hyde, a book that I have been recommending to Liberty activists for years since someone else in the movement first recommended it to me. I did not know that there was a companion volume called "Dedication and Leadership Techniques," which you can get via a free email listserv run by one of Dr. Paul's associates.
In Part II, Dr. Paul reveals his strategy for educational reform. He begins by comparing public education to the U.S. Post Office. This is a wonderful comparison, and it provides hope for the future, as the USPS is broke and becoming irrelevant. Given the sorry state of public education and the powerful monopoly it represents, I think the strategy offered in Part II is the best possible one available at this time, although there are elements of it with which I disagree. In chapter four, Dr. Paul makes a strong case for family-based education, stating, "families have the final say in the content and structure of education for their children." As a father, I see the clear need for this as my children age. Ron Paul emphasizes the cost structure of education, as well as the lines of authority which ought to exist. He provides an example from a 1925 textbook promoting eugenics by the Liberal Establishment of the time as an example of the indoctrination that has been going on for over 80 years, which parents could restrict until children are of such an age and understanding that they are able to refute such pablum.
Chapter five emphasizes competition. Anyone with a proper understanding of free markets understands how central this concept is to a well-ordered universe. Ron Paul demolishes the compulsory education standard, as well as the petty regulations favored by Educrats. "Parents have the authority to determine what kind of education is best for their children." Without this important freedom, "the state will pursue a policy of extending its monopoly over education."
Chapter six, on "Self-Instruction," Dr. Paul points out many of the things that parents have been saying for decades, "One size does not fit all", but he also points out some of the less obvious truisms, such as that "as a student becomes more mature, he becomes less dependent upon any teacher." Ron Paul looks at education from the perspective of individual efficiency. One thing surprised me: Ron Paul does not think smaller classrooms are the answer. This still leaves individual students dependent upon the system, and inhibits their ability to learn independently. From personal experience, I can attest that there is truth in this statement. Ron Paul makes the case that many of the accepted conventions in practice today are as out-of-date as the teaching methods of 1450 AD. That was a zinger! It is not the only one; many are interspersed throughout the text. Ron Paul also shows compassion for all students, regardless of ability. This is one of the many reasons why so many of us find him so very endearing.
Chapter seven, "Online Education" is almost certainly one of the most controversial. Recognizing that Ron Paul is nearly always right, and always ahead of his time, many will struggle with the model he offers here. His logic is difficult to refute, as it is grounded firmly in the competitive market dynamics found the Austrian School of Economics.
Part III discusses what Ron Paul considers his ideal school. In chapter eight, Ron Paul considers what each of the various "stakeholders" (my term, not his) want from education. He wants parents in firm control of education, both economically and legally. He begins by looking at education from a parents' point of view.
In chapter nine, he discusses what students need. I am in general agreement with Ron Paul's prescriptions on most points. However, I do not think that online education is a silver bullet, as I think there should be more human interaction. Online education is clearly very cost-effective, and can undermine the compulsory, top-down, public education model. However, I worry about all of that screen time on a child's eyes. I worry about the lack of interaction with others, although certainly it is easier than ever before to create voluntary associations through the internet.
I think that a gifted child who is ready for advanced physics or advanced calculus will have to make some special arrangements. Also, I'm not sure if solving problems in web forums with people you don't know personally is the proper substitute for a live teacher intimately familiar with advanced material. I do think that this formula is very sound for a good education in liberal arts and humanities. It is probably very well-suited to business education as well. For advanced math and science students, and fine arts, I think the wonderful ideas in this book are going to require additional fleshing out and thoughtful contributions from others to add to Dr. Paul's fine beginning. The beautiful thing about liberty is that we can add these pieces on ourselves once we have the basic structure. I believe that the Ron Paul curriculum provides much of this structure for most students, and is a welcome antidote. Ron Paul does address many of these criticisms, but I am not entirely satisfied from my own experience.
One thing that surprised me was that Ron Paul did not recommend Rothbard's classic, "Education: Free and Compulsory" nor Iserbyt's classic, "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of American Education," nor any of John Taylor Gatto's books on education. Nor did he provide a brief history of how public education failed miserably. Perhaps it is for the best, as there are other books out there that address this topic.
Other than these minor concerns, which I think free-thinking individuals can resolve privately in their own ways, this book was an important and excellent addition to my Ron Paul "Liberty Library", and it could not have come at a better time. Whether you love these ideas or reject them, you cannot simply dismiss them. Ron Paul has added something important to the dialogue.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 22, 2013 6:43:15 AM PDT
Mrs. D. says:
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2013 7:45:55 AM PDT
Patrick M. Hussey says:
The organizing techniques are ideologically neutral. They can be used by anyone to advance a certain set of ideas.
Posted on Jan 22, 2014 12:26:02 PM PST
Chaos Theorist says:
I learned things like calculus and advanced physics despite the schooling system. After all, the logic used by most academic mathematicians is faulty. Aristotle (and Ayn Rand) were wrong to say that every statement is either true or false. Most statements are meaningless, as you can glean by reading just about any political speech or sample of advertising. One thing that is truly amazing is that today's supercomputers are using the same level of numerical precision (64 bits) as the old mainframes of the 1950s, despite the fact that they are doing calculations a billion or more times complex. But nothing should surprise you, since science is a make-work project and government is a protection racket. Both do perform useful services, but it all could be done cheaper and better if the people running them were honest.
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