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The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System Hardcover – September 17, 2013
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About the Author
Ron Paul is a former twelve-term congressman from Texas and a #1 New York Times bestselling author. He has devoted his political career to the defense of individual liberty, sound money, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. Judge Andrew Napolitano once called him "the Thomas Jefferson of our day."
After serving as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s, Dr. Paul moved to Texas to begin a civilian medical practice, delivering over four thousand babies in his career as an obstetrician. He served in Congress from 1976 to 1984, and again from 1996 to 2012. He and Carol Paul, his wife of fifty-one years, have five children, eighteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Ron Paul, the New York Post once wrote, is a politician who "cannot be bought by special interests."
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Top Customer Reviews
I start out with that to say that I am getting my graduate degree for free. My tuition is waived, I am paid a stipend, and life is pretty comfortable; nevertheless, I hate the public education system with a passion. It is that which drove me to buy and read this book. I suppose I was expecting it to be a little more political than it turned it out to be: rather than scathing denouncements of the Department of Education (which is only mentioned by name about once or twice), most of this book is a manual on how and why you should homeschool your children.
I think many people recognize the merits of homeschool education, but the big concern I've encountered from people is that they don't want their children to become socially awkward. Ron Paul addresses this concern in a single line from the end of the book when he says that you can simply have your children join community sports leagues, but I already knew that.
I suppose the biggest asset to this book was raising awareness of online education. I suppose I vaguely knew that there were classes offered for free online, but Ron makes passionate arguments for them.
I don't know, I suppose I'm not entirely convinced. I hate the Department of Education and the public education system perhaps just as much as the Fed, but at the same time, I kind of want my children to experience it. I want them to go through public school and realize why it is so terrible. I want them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers and realize that most people suck and that you have to learn how to deal with it. I want them to go through the same thing as everyone else and realize why it is terrible. For a competent person, the public education system is a sober lesson in what is absolutely wrong with this society and what needs to be fixed.
This doesn't mean I have to ignore my children's education. I want to talk with them about what's going on in public school and help them discover who they are when we have time together. I want to supplement the BS they learn in school with the kind of stuff I'm reading now, not so that I can impart my worldview onto them per se but so that they can see that they're being brainwashed and lied to and that the "real history" and revisionism I'm reading is much more compelling stuff.
I guess I don't entirely agree with Ron Paul's theory about how to defeat the public education system. Now that someone like Trump is in office, it does seem like there can be top-down change. Trump is very pro-local education and has expressed negative sentiment about the Department of Education. I think it's much more likely that someone like this can effect change rather than depending on people to duck out of the school system. Let's face it: the overwhelming majority of people simply WILL send their children to public schools and couples like me don't have the economic freedom to sacrifice one of our incomes. The idea that grassroots non-participation will end the public education system seems like nothing more than a pipe dream.
But kudos to whoever does choose to homeschool and for whom that works out.
Also, if you do not intend to plan your own home education program, or do not intend to do child-led home education, then I think Ron Paul's curriculum may be for you. He does aim his curriculum at the top 20% though, sadly. He offers some lessons for free to test it out, and also has a money-back guarantee.
I would recommend this book to anyone who might be considering home education, I also think anyone in high school would benefit to know that their textbooks were rewritten and that a lot of the information is inaccurate. Maybe even teachers, as I think just knowing that the lecture method does not really work could give them some insight to try something else.
The Revolution is a much more important Ron Paul book for the everyday person, but I think this is great for parents, and I wish more parents knew that this is an option and that they would not have to do much to home educate. The main work is in the early years, during playschool and elementary. When the student starts to self-educate (around "fourth grade"), less and less intervention is needed. By or during middle school they should be able to self-educate.
I love his recommendation for home educated students to post essays online weekly on a blog, that it will help students feel more motivation to spend time writing instead of doing so last minute so that they do not feel embarrassed about posting.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author thoroughly discusses how the formation of free people should look like and why it's not the case in public schools.Read more