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misspent youth

Actually millions upon millions of them …
thanks to the Prussian education model
replicated in our country and most of the world.

With today’s technology, here is a tantalizing tease of what could be:

“In education markets, like the Asian tutoring industry, top teachers are superstars who get to design curricula for thousands or even millions of students and train scores or hundreds of other teachers to use their effective methods. Quality providers expand and are emulated by competitors, and there is a powerful incentive for meaningful innovation. … One teacher in Korea’s private tutoring sector made $2 million last year because his web-based employer has profit sharing and he’s brilliant at what he does, so he gets tons of students. That’s what should have happened to [Jaime] Escalante. That’s the sort of success that should greet excellence in education at all levels. It doesn’t because we don’t have a market.”
— Andrew J. Coulson

But that would create thinking, challenging, innovative, creative people who would be hard to control, and as likely to create competitive industry rather than working diligently in that of the current elites.

I have written and published extensively on the subject of our current, as well as possible educational models, posting 40 essays on education at the Bitterroot Bugle and 60 at its older sister site, Idaho Liberty. It is a topic important to me, to free societies and, unfortunately, to those who would control a culture. Rather obviously, centralized education is the latter – and the model most of us have come to accept as normal.

In this post I am pulling together others’ essays on the issue that recently caught my eye. Each is strong on its own, so I will excerpt from them. I encourage you to click on the links in their headlines to enjoy the full articles.


The Pros and Cons of Going To College

by James Altucher

…Getting a degree wasted five years of my life…

…I put in my 10,000 hours of programming. I knew how to build an operating system. I could take apart and put together a computer.

If I lived in the 1800s I probably could invent computers. I thought I was good.

When I got my first job in “the real world” I was a programmer. My second day on the job I crashed the entire network and lost everyone’s email.

My boss came into my cubicle (very embarrassing since everyone in the cubicles around could hear and would later gossip) and said, “We really want you to work out but it’s not so we are going to send you to remedial school on computers.”

I drove two hours every day to go to a remedial class in computer programming. I learned how to program then and eventually started three or four software companies and invested in dozens of others…

…Six years later when I was running a venture capital firm he even pitched me a deal. I said, “Let me call you back on that.” And I never spoke to him again.

So this is my story of college to establish some credentials. I’ve written a lot about college. I had the #1 book on Amazon about “College Education” for about a year.

But let me tell you the latest pros and cons…


Let the Kids Work

Jeffrey Tucker

The Washington Post ran a beautiful photo montage of children at work from 100 years ago. I get it. It’s not supposed to be beautiful. It’s supposed to be horrifying. I’m looking at these kids. They are scruffy, dirty, and tired. No question.

But I also think about their inner lives. They are working in the adult world, surrounded by cool bustling things and new technology. They are on the streets, in the factories, in the mines, with adults and with peers, learning and doing. They are being valued for what they do, which is to say being valued as people. They are earning money.

Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life. You can talk about the dangers of coal mining or selling newspapers on the street. But let’s not pretend that danger is something that every young teen wants to avoid. If you doubt it, head over the stadium for the middle school football game in your local community, or have a look at the wrestling or gymnastic team’s antics at the gym.

And I compare it to any scene you can observe today at the local public school, with 30 kids sitting in desks bored out of their minds, creativity and imagination beaten out of their brains, forbidden from earning money and providing value to others, learning no skills, and knowing full well that they are supposed to do this until they are 22 years old if they have the slightest chance of being a success in life: desk after desk, class after class, lecture after lecture, test after test, a confined world without end.


Mom, Will You Homeschool Me?by Jody Hagaman

About fourteen years ago, my athletic, top-of-his-class and popular son came to me and blew me away with an unexpected question. As it turned out, he was battling an emotional turmoil, and the only way he could see out was to be homeschooled.

Here’s what was going down. The kids his age (7th grade) were starting to dabble in marijuana, alcohol and promiscuity. He did not want to travel down that road of destruction, but if he stayed in school, he could only see three options: #1 – partake in the activities and betray everything he stood for; #2 – walk away and be labeled a loser; #3 – be a loner. None of them appealed to him.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing….

“Well, I won’t tell you I told you so when you fall flat on your face!”

I went from one word of discouragement to another.

Family was my next obstacle. One family member cornered me in my own home and said, “You’re going to ruin that kid! He’s going to hate you!” A family friend, who was a teacher, told me that I was in no way, shape or form qualified to homeschool my child and asked what made me think I was more qualified than she was for the job. I could go on and on….

But my boy also wanted to attend college, so I knew the SAT was an important mountain to climb. In spite of our loose education plan and lack of formal math curriculum, Chase earned the highest level of the Bright Futures Scholarship and went to on to earn a free ride for his Bachelor’s Degree.

No one really told me how to homeschool, but I’d bet that’s exactly what most homeschool parents would say. We figured it out along the way, and maybe that’s even one of the most powerful benefits of homeschooling….

I knew he would need a strong entrepreneurial spirit in whatever he did in life, so I challenged him to start his own business. He registered with all the necessary government entities and even paid taxes. His business was a success!

Chase is now an attorney in New Hampshire. At the start of this year, he was hired as the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bi-partisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy…


31 Things Your Kids Should Be Doing Instead of Homework

by Jessica Smock

There are many aspects of my more than decade-long career as a teacher that I’m proud of.
My reputation for giving lots and lots of homework is not one of them.

When I entered a doctoral program in education policy, I learned about the research that suggests that homework is not good for young kids. Not only does it fail to improve the academic performance of elementary students, but it might actually be damaging to kids’ attitudes toward school, and to their physical health. In a review of available research studies, Harris Cooper, a leading researcher who has spent decades studying the effect of homework, concluded that “there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.”

It’s not just that homework itself has no academic benefits for little kids, and may even be harmful, it’s also that homework is replacing other fun, developmentally appropriate, and valuable activities – activities that help them grow into healthy, happy adults.

So, what are some of the things kids could be doing in those hours between the end of the school day and bed time? …