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Education

How to Become a Producer

September 24th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Producers are the most important citizens, as Thomas Jefferson put it.

Actually, the word he used was farmers—specifically, “tillers of the soil.” By producing food, farmers obviously had an important role in successful society.

But Jefferson meant more than this.

Because farmers lived close to the land, they were self-reliant with respect to their own survival and received an income from providing indispensable basic needs for others.

This made them more independent than people of other occupations.

If hard times came, they tightened their belts and lived off their farms. In contrast, during the same challenges, most city dwellers and even shop owners were more likely to turn to the government or upper classes for help.

The founding generation was sensitive to the level of dependency of the European populace.

The small but incredibly powerful upper class was the only group that could live off their assets and make it through hard times like war, economic depression, or pandemic.

Because of this, the upper class was independent while everyone else was dependent on the upper classes and government.

Since the first focus of human societies is to survive, the power to survive independently was seen as true independence. Indeed, the War of Independence had this deeper meaning to founding Americans: They were finally independent of the European upper class.

Dependents versus Independents

In our day, nearly all citizens are dependent on an employer or the government.

One way to rate one’s level of independence might be to measure how long you can survive, feed your family, and live in your home after your employer stops paying you anything.

Some people are two-year independents, while others are three-year independents or two-month independents, and so on.

It is not unlikely that most Americans are absolute dependents, living paycheck to paycheck or on government support.

The triple entendre here is interesting.

At a time where the growth of political independents is helping lessen the dangers of a two-party monopoly on American politics, there is a need for more people to become true economic independents (people who can survive indefinitely without a paycheck). As both of these grow, the level of American independence will increase.

Any level of economic independence is good, including everything from two months to twenty years of non-employer-dependent financial security.

But the future of freedom may well depend on those with permanent economic independence.

3 Types of Independents

There are three groups with long-term independence whose members are permanently free from dependence on a paycheck.

The first two are made up of people supported by trust funds or equivalent, covered financially for life by wealth earned or passed down to them.

Group one lives off these funds, often spending their lives in play and leisure.

The second group spends their lives dedicated to making a difference in society through service, career, investment, entrepreneurship, or whatever path they choose to use to improve themselves and the world.

The third group has no trust fund or equivalent wealth to rely upon, but has the skill set and worldview of entrepreneurial enterprise.

This group doesn’t start with full bank accounts, but rather with emotional accounts full of faith and determination, grit and initiative, and an undying belief in the principles of abundance, hard work, and enterprise.

Whatever happens, members of this third group have an almost unshakable belief that there is opportunity everywhere.

They believe in themselves, and they believe that if they put their minds and hands to work they can build value out of opportunity and create prosperity through their energy and effort.

Together, the second and third groups are society’s Producers.

They start, build, invest in and grow businesses and organizations that create a nation’s assets, advancements, and top achievements. They employ the workers of the world.

And when hard times come, they don’t ask government or employers to provide for them. Rather, they look around, assess the situation, see opportunities amidst the problems, and get to work building value for the future.

They do, however, ask government and the big established businesses to get out of the way, to allow them the freedom to turn their initiative and work into growing profits and success.

When government increases obstacles and regulations on small business, it directly attacks freedom and prosperity.

When this occurs, entrepreneurs naturally look for nations and markets that are friendly to business. As a result, nations with free enterprise systems attract more producers and are blessed with greater wealth and prosperity.

Non-Producer Attempts to Create Producers

Nations naturally benefit from a large producer class, but how are producers created? The common answers fall short.

The liberal view is that those with credentials and advanced education—the experts—must set up a system that allows enterprise but also fairly distributes the rewards of economic success.

The conservative view is to allow big investors to get huge rewards and therefore be willing to take big risks.

The blue-collar populist approach is to make sure management treats labor fairly and humanely.

The bureaucratic view is that rules make the society and economy work.

While each of these has a place, within limits, none of them really get to the heart of what makes producers tick.

The problem is that these views are nearly always promoted and managed by employees with an employee background and an employee mentality.

Non-producers grudgingly admit the great need for more producers, and then set out to build conveyor belts which will produce more producers.

This only works insofar as a born entrepreneur sometimes breaks out of the conveyor belt and overcomes the obstacles to his or her success.

David Brooks has referred to Washington’s party politics as the PhD’s (liberals) versus the MBA’s (conservatives).

Both give lip service to small business; but their modus operandi belies a different governing worldview.

The PhD’s want government to run the economy and provide jobs, and to be the Great State Entrepreneur so that regular citizens don’t need to take risks.

The MBA’s want to appeal to big investment, and are loathe to consider small business significant or meaningful.

The average citizen-employee wants managers to treat employees better.

This is all employee thinking.

Government programs will not create many entrepreneurs, nor will most corporate ventures, bureaucratic agencies, or labor unions.

And most MBA programs emphasize employee training and measure their effectiveness by citing job placement statistics.

Entrepreneurs are the natural competitors to all these.

The Answer

How do we create more producers?

The answer, as frustrating as it is to the experts, is this: We don’t.

That is, institutionalized and standardized programs do not of themselves yield producers, except by happenstance (as noted above).

The very act of systemizing the training of initiative and innovation tends to shut down initiative and innovation.

What can be done, what actually works, is to help young people realize the importance of producers in society and reward their inclinations toward being anomalies, outliers, and disruptive innovators.

The first one is easier said than done; the second one is nearly impossible for most parents and teachers to either conceive of or accomplish.

To support the development of the entrepreneurial spirit in the rising generation, youth need to be:

  1. Exposed to those who highly value entrepreneurialism
  2. Given opportunities to earn and receive personalized mentoring from successful producers.

In short, as we elevate the honor and accessibility of being producers, we will tend to increase the number of them.

While the example may have its limitations, it is interesting to study the most successful network marketing, multi-level and other like organizations that in recent times have emphasized entrepreneurship among “regular” people.

For instance, Amway and its affiliates created more millionaires than most of the top 100 corporations combined, with each millionaire being an independent entrepreneur.

In such organizations, interested people are introduced to many who highly value entrepreneurial producers, and new affiliates work directly with a producer mentor.

Hundreds of non-traditional companies have accomplished similar results. Ironically, one criticism of such organizations by mainstream (employee) experts is that they are “pyramid schemes.”

From another perspective, the true pyramid companies are those where most of the work hours are done by lesser-paid employees while the highest salaries and bonuses go to the executives at the top.

Hands-on business schools like Acton MBA have similarly helped educate entrepreneurs by a combination of inspiring people to be producers and also providing producer mentors.

And the many bestselling books promoting this same model, from the “One Minute” series to the writings of Steve Farber and many others, show that this system is appealing to many people.

Highly successful coaching services have followed this pattern as well, including such notable businesses as those established by John Assaraf, Leslie Householder, Dennis Deaton and many of those mentioned in The Secret.

Nearly the entire self-help industry is built on this model: Promote the honor and value of successful entrepreneurialism and help would-be producers get direct mentoring from successful producers.

Thinkers like Andrew Carnegie and writers like Dale Carnegie outlined this model a long time ago.

The mainstream PhD/MBA ambivalence toward the “Success” and “Self-Help” community stems from their reliance on and loyalty to the doctrine of employeeship.

Harvard Business School once emphasized that the major changes in the world tend to come from what they called “disruptive innovators.”

These anomalous individuals produce surprising novelties from out-of-the-mainstream sources and dramatically change society, business, and other facets of life.

Disruptive innovators are disruptive precisely because they are totally unexpected by the conventional majority.

The government and big corporations spend a lot of resources trying to predict the future.

And invariably entrepreneurial producers come along every few years and change everything. Reams of articles and books are written trying to predict where the next such innovations will come from and prescribing how to help train future innovators.

But the network marketing companies and other non-traditional entities drastically out-produce government and big corporate attempts to build entrepreneurs.

3 Steps

But all of this commentary falls short of the real point. Only the individual can truly become an entrepreneur.

If there is to be a much-needed revolution that brings many more entrepreneurs to society, individuals, and families must take action and lead out.

If what we want is more independence, then we must have more independents—more producers.

If you want society to be leavened by a greater proportion of individuals with producer mojo, then you need to consider whether you should be a producer yourself, and how to become one.

To be a producer, it is up to you to make it happen.

Here are three suggestions:

1. Study successful producers.

The most important part of this is to see the power of focus, integrity, and faith in abundance that producers exemplify.

Where the media often tries to paint producers as greedy and immoral, the truth is usually very different.

Pay special attention to what great producers believe, and learn to think like them.

The habit of truly believing in abundance and principles makes one a true independent, permanently free of dependence on others and able to build, create and lead.

2. Study what the great producers study.

The material most studied by the greatest producers and leaders has been the great classics.

Producers are voracious readers, going far beyond any prescribed lists. Leaders are readers.

Read the greatest works of mankind and everything else you can get your hands on. Keep reading, studying and learning throughout your life.

3. Find and work with mentors who are successful producers.

The unwritten lessons gained from this kind of experience are invaluable, real and profound.

Coming face-to-face with greatness by working with successful producers is essential to becoming a successful producer yourself.

Our society desperately needs more producers.

We need more people who think like entrepreneurs and more people who take initiative and fulfill the needs of society without waiting for government or the people of wealth and privilege to “fix it for us.”

The future of freedom is directly and literally tied to the future of producers in our society.

Click Here to Download a Printable Version of This Article

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Culture &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Mini-Factories &Producers

Entrepreneurs of the World, Unite!

September 22nd, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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A revolution is needed.

Not just any revolution, mind you, but a specific kind of freedom shift that will make the critical difference.

In order to progress, we need a renaissance of the entrepreneurial mentality and many millions of entrepreneurs in our society.

The recession has already helped increase awareness of this need. The Information Age is naturally offering many improvements over the Industrial Age, but simple access to more information is not enough.

What we do with the increased power of widespread information is the key.

The great benefit of the Nomadic Age was family and community connection and a feeling of true belonging, while the Agrarian Age brought improved learning, science and art, and eventually democratic freedoms.

The Industrial Age allowed more widespread distribution of prosperity and social justice, and many improved lifestyle options through technological advances.

Unfortunately, during the Industrial Age many freedoms were decreased as free nations turned to big institutions and secretive agencies for governance.

The industrial belief in the conveyor belt impacted nearly every major aspect of life, from education and health care to agriculture, industry, business, law, media, family, elder care, groceries, clothing, and on and on.

Whether the end product was goods or services, these all became systemized on assembly lines—from production to delivery and even post-purchase customer service.

At the same time, we widely adopted certain industrial views which became cultural, such as “Bigger is always better,” “It’s just business,” “Perception is reality,” and many others. In truth, all of these are usually more false than true, but they became the cultural norm in nearly all of modern life.

Perhaps the most pervasive and negative mantra promoted by modernism is that success in life is built on becoming an employee and its academic corollary that the purpose of education is to prepare for a job.

Certainly some people want to make a job the focus of their working life, but a truly free and prosperous society is built on a system where a large number of the adult population spends its working days producing as owners, entrepreneurs and social leaders.

Producer vs. Employee Society

A society of producers is more likely to promote freedom than a society of dependents. Indeed, only a society of producers can maintain freedom.

Most nations in history have suffered from a class system where the “haves” enjoyed more rights, opportunities and options than the “have nots.” This has always been a major threat to freedom.

The American framers overcame this by establishing a new system where every person was treated equally before the law.

This led to nearly two centuries of increasing freedoms for all social classes, both genders and all citizens—whatever their race, religion, health, etc.

During the Industrial Age this system changed in at least two major ways.

First, the U.S. commercial code was changed to put limits on who can invest in what.

Rather than simply protecting all investors (rich or poor) against fraud or other criminal activity, in the name of “protecting the unsophisticated,” laws were passed that only allow the highest level of the middle class and the upper classes to invest in the investments with the highest returns.

This created a European-style model where only the rich own the most profitable companies and get richer while the middle and lower classes are stuck where they are.

Second, the schools at all levels were reformed to emphasize job training rather than quality leadership education.

Today, great leadership education is still the staple at many elite private schools, but the middle and lower classes are expected to forego the “luxury” of opportunity-affording, deep leadership education and instead just seek the more “practical” and “relevant” one-size-fits-all job training.

This perpetuates the class system.

This is further exacerbated by the reality that public schools in middle-class zip codes typically perform much higher than lower-class neighborhood schools.

Private elite schools train most of our future upper class and leaders, middle-class public schools train our managerial class and most professionals, and lower-class public schools train our hourly wage workers.

Notable exceptions notwithstanding, the rule still is what it is.

Government reinforces the class system by the way it runs public education, and big business supports it through the investment legal code.

With these two biggest institutions in society promoting the class divide, lower and middle classes have limited power to change things.

The Power of Entrepreneurship

The wooden stake that overcomes the vampire of an inelastic class system is entrepreneurial success.

Becoming a producer and successfully creating new value in society helps the entrepreneur surpass the current class-system matrix, and also weakens the overall caste system itself.

In short, if America is to turn the Information Age into an era of increased freedom and widespread economic opportunity, we need more producers.

How do we accomplish this Freedom Shift?

First of all, we must get past the obvious wish that Congress should simply equalize investment laws and allow everyone to be equal before the law.

Neither government nor big business has a vested interest in this change, and neither, therefore, does either major political party.

Nor does either side see much reason to change the public education system to emphasize entrepreneurial over employee training.

Either of these changes, or both, would be nice, but neither is likely.

What is more realistic is a grassroots return to American initiative, innovation and independence.

Specifically, regular people of all classes need to become producers.

A renaissance of entrepreneurship (building businesses), social entrepreneurship (building private service institutions like schools and hospitals), intrapreneurship (acting like an entrepreneur within an established company), and social leadership (taking entrepreneurial leadership into society and promoting the growth of freedom and prosperity) is needed.

Along with this, parents need to emphasize personalized, individualized educational options for their youth and to prepare them for entrepreneurship and producership, rather than cultivating in them dependence on employeeship.

If these two changes occur, we will see a significant increase in freedom and prosperity.

The opposite is obviously true, as well: The long-anticipated “train wreck” in society and politics is not so difficult to imagine as it was twenty years ago.

The education of the rising generation in self-determination, crisis management, human nature, history, and indeed, the liberal arts and social leadership in general, is the historically-proven best hope for our future liberty and success.

If entrepreneurial and other producer endeavors flourish and grow, it will naturally lead to changes in the commercial code that level the playing field for people from all economic levels and backgrounds.

Until the producer class is growing, there is little incentive to deconstruct the class system.

More than 80 percent of America’s wealth comes from small businesses, and when these grow, so will our national prosperity.

Today there are numerous obstacles to starting and growing small businesses. There will be many who lament that the current climate is not friendly to new enterprises.

Frontiers have ever been thus, and our forebears plunged headlong into greater threats. What choice did they have? What choice do we have? What if they hadn’t? What if we don’t?

The hard reality is that until the producer class is growing there will be little power to change this situation.

As long as the huge majority is waiting for the government to provide more jobs, we will likely continue to see increased regulation on small business that decreases the number of new private-sector jobs and opportunities.

The only realistic solution is for Americans to engage their entrepreneurial initiative and build new value.

This has always been the fundamental source of American prosperity.

The Growing Popularity of Producer Education

Consider what leading thinkers on the needs of American education and business are saying.

In Revolutionary Wealth, renowned futurist Alvin Toffler says that schools must deemphasize outdated industrial-style education with its reliance on rote memorization, the skill of fitting in with class-oriented standards, and “getting the right answers,” and instead infuse schools with creativity, individualization, independent and original thinking skills, and entrepreneurial worldviews.

Harvard’s Howard Gardner argued in Five Minds for the Future that all American students must learn the following entrepreneurial skills: “the ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres,” and the “capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena.”

John Naisbitt, bestselling author of Megatrends, wrote in Mind Set! that success in the new economy will require the right leadership mindset much more than Industrial-Age credentials or status.

Tony Wagner wrote in The Global Achievement Gap that the skills needed for success in the new economy include such producer abilities as: critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leading by influence, agility, adaptability, curiosity, imagination, effective communication, initiative and entrepreneurialism.

Former Al Gore speechwriter Daniel Pink writes in A Whole New Mind that the most useful and marketable skills in the decades ahead will be the entrepreneurial abilities of high-concept thinking and high-touch leading.

Seth Godin makes the same case for the growing need for entrepreneurial-style leaders in his business bestsellers Tribes and Linchpin.

Malcolm Gladwell arrives at similar conclusions in the bestselling book Outliers.

There are many more such offerings, all suggesting that the future of education needs to emphasize training the rising generations to think and act like entrepreneurs.

Indeed, without a producer generation, the Information Age will not be a period of freedom or spreading prosperity. Still, few schools are heeding this research.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has shown in The Post-American World that numerous nations around the world are now drastically increasing their influence and national prosperity.

All of them are doing it in a simple way: by incentivizing entrepreneurial behavior and a growing class of producers.

Unlike aristocratic classes, successful entrepreneurs are mostly self-made (with the help of mentors and colleagues) and have a deep faith in free enterprise systems, which allow opportunity to all people regardless of their background or starting level of wealth.

Entrepreneurs and Freedom

History is full of anti-government fads, from the French and Russian revolutionists to tea-party patriots in Boston and anti-establishment protestors at Woodstock, among many others. Some revolutions work, and others fail.

The ones that succeed, the ones that build lasting change and create a better world, are led by entrepreneurial spirit and behavior. As more entrepreneurs succeed, the legal system naturally becomes more free.

As more people take charge of their own education, utilizing the experts as tutors and mentors but refusing to be dependent on the educational establishment, individualized education spreads and more leaders are prepared.

With more leaders, more people succeed as producers, and the cycle strengthens and repeats itself.

Freedom is the result of initiative, ingenuity and tenacity in the producer class. These are also the natural consequences of personalized leadership education and successful entrepreneurial ventures.

For anyone who cares about freedom and wants to pass the blessings of liberty on to our children and grandchildren, we need to get one thing very clear: A revolution of entrepreneurs is needed.

We need more of them, and those who are already entrepreneurs need to become even better social leaders. Without such a revolution, freedom will be lost.

Click Here to Download a PDF of This Article

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &History &Information Age &Liberty &Producers

The Chemistry of Genius?

September 17th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

New Science on What Makes Quality Education

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Harvard Business School recently emphasized that the major changes in the world tend to come from what they called “disruptive innovators.”

These are surprising innovations that usually come from out-of-the-mainstream sources and drastically change society, business, and other facets of life.

Disruptive innovators are disruptive precisely because they are totally unexpected by the mainstream.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a best-selling book on the concept, showing that many and in fact most of the major societal initiators come from “outliers.”

Why are so many progresses initiated and led by unknown talent hotbeds, what Daniel Coyle called “chicken-wire Harvards”?

Indeed, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and their counterparts may lead the analysis about innovations, but “chicken-wire Harvards” produce many more innovative projects.

The Innovation “Gene”

Why is more entrepreneurial, innovative and leadership education flourishing in small, humble, usually under-funded environments than in the prestigious, elite halls of endowments and status?

And even when the mainstream and elite institutions take note and attempt to emulate such successes, why do they usually fall short of the smaller talent hotbeds?

The answer is simple. The breeding grounds of initiative and leadership believe in and implement the philosophy of individualized education.

Nearly everywhere else, the emphasis is on systemized models of learning that students must learn to navigate and “fit.”

To reinforce this point, there are many small, humble and under-funded educational models that are not talent hotbeds—almost invariably they are followers of the “systems model” rather than individualization.

Dead Poet’s Society

I well remember a visit years ago to a private school that had just received two major breakthroughs: an endowment from a wealthy parent, and a new president who promised to significantly grow the school.

As I talked to this president, however, I realized that he fully intended to turn this excellent, proven hotbed of talent into a systemized conveyor belt. He felt that this is what the wealthy donor wanted, and maybe it was.

But I could tell after a few minutes of visiting with him that he would ruin the depth, quality and excellent results the school had boasted for the past decade.

Five years later, my worst concerns were unfortunately the reality. The school was no longer a place of deep quality and excellence, but it was much bigger, more bureaucratic, and hardly distinguishable from the local public schools. Indeed, several charter schools in the area offered much higher quality.

The key to this change was teachers. In the public schools, teachers have been penalized for great teaching since 2002. As Harper’s noted:

“Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002…U.S. teachers are forced to choose between teaching general knowledge and ‘teaching to the test.’ The best teachers are thereby often disenfranchised by the improper use of education information systems.”

But in private schools, this system is not mandated. However, when such schools apply the systems approach to education, they usually obtain similar mediocre results.

In the old, under-funded days of this high school, the teachers had given their hearts and souls to provide personalized, individualized attention to every student.

As the school turned to industrial systems, these teachers were forced to move on or change their approach from individualized learning to factory-style academia.

Approaching each child with the assumption that she has genius inside, and that the teacher’s role is to help her find it, develop and polish it to improve herself and the world—this is called teaching. Anything else is something else.

Where true teaching occurs, excellence flourishes. This is applicable at all levels, from elementary to high school, undergraduate to graduate programs, and also adult learning.

Individualization of education is the first step to leadership education, and without it quality always decreases.

Seratonin, Adrenaline & Myelin

Science is now beginning to show the reasons why quality in education increases with individualization.

Studies have shown for a long time that students receiving personalized, caring and quality mentorship learn more effectively than those required to conform to a deeply structured and systemized model.

Elites have historically been successful in engaging tutors, mentors and individualizing private schools over less personal conveyor-belt schooling options.

Scientists are now discovering that the individualized method (personalized mentoring, deep practice, long hours of inspired and enthusiastic academic effort) results in drastically higher levels of the neural insulator myelin than the standardized system of education.

Students with higher levels of myelin learn more and remember it longer. It is especially valuable for gaining, maintaining and polishing skills.

As Daniel Coyle writes in The Talent Code:

“The talent code is built on revolutionary scientific discoveries involving a neural insulator called myelin, which some neurologists now consider to be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Here’s why. Every human skill…is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse—basically, a signal traveling through a circuit.

“Myelin’s vital role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster…each new layer adding a bit more skill and speed.”

This research is in its infancy, but it is already helping us understand that there are neuro-chemical factors in our basic psycho-physiology that are impacted by our learning environment.

Montessori, Charlotte Mason and other great educators have taught this for many years.

Personalized educational models, with dedicated and caring mentors helping learners achieve depth and inspiration in their studies, achieve better results than assembly-line education.

Mentoring Matters

Quality mentors help students learn at least three key things:

  1. How to see their internal greatness and potential.
  2. How to study and practice in ways that greatly increase the flow of learning.
  3. How to repeat this kind of learning experience at will.

These are nearly always individualized lessons; and when they are applied, researchers are finding, the level of myelin and the resultant quality of learning increases.

To increase myelin levels and create talent hotbeds, Coyle says, mentors must create an environment of individualized coaching, be perceptive in seeing individual needs in their students, use shock or intensity to open student minds and then share valuable information, and find ways to really connect with each learner.

All of this is traditional leadership education, based on the same principles as the 7 Keys covered in my book A Thomas Jefferson Education:

  1. Classics, not Textbooks
  2. Mentors, not Professors
  3. Inspire, not Require
  4. Structure Time, not Content
  5. Quality, not Conformity
  6. Simplicity, not Complexity
  7. You, not Them (example)

It would be interesting to study the myelin levels of each. Say, for example, a study of myelin levels in students whose teachers emphasize the “inspire” approach versus those with more “requirement-oriented” methods. There could be many other examples.

Individualization Breeds Innovation

One thing is clear, if not yet scientifically studied: Most parents and teachers who apply the 7 Keys see significant, drastic and lasting increases in the quality of their students’ and their own learning.

Personalized education is more effective in helping students learn in their areas of interest, and it also outperforms generally in math, science and technology.

In the decades ahead, as in decades past, many of the most innovative ideas and projects are likely to come from talent hothouses outside the mainstream—places where dedicated and caring mentors help young people see their huge potential, start to discover their great inner genius, and feel inspired to do the hard and effective work of getting a great education.

Individualized, mentored, intensive learning has better results than standardized, rote and minimum-standards systems.

Click Here to Download a PDF of this Article

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Science

A Review of Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward

September 15th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

launchingaleadershiprevolutioncoverAs a fan of leadership books, I try to read everything that comes out in this field.

Unfortunately, reading hundreds of books on the same topic means there is seldom something really new—fresh, exciting, revolutionary that uplifts the entire genre.

The last such surprise for me came several years ago in the writings of Steve Farber. But now, finally, comes another great addition to the leadership genre: Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.

Their subtitle, “Mastering the Five Levels of Influence,” sounds like typical management book fare, but it isn’t.

Each level is vital, well-taught and interesting, and together they form a truly revolutionary model for leadership.

This is not exaggeration—this book is excellent! I rank it right along with the best of Drucker, Bennis, Blanchard, Gerber, Collins, Deming, and Farber. It is destined to be a classic.

Brady and Woodward teach that everyone will be called upon for leadership at some point in their life.

They then turn leadership upon its head, noting that while many people seek leadership for the perceived benefits of power, control, or perks, the true life of a leader is actually built upon

“…giving power (empowering)…helping others fix problems…and serving others. Leaders lead for the joy of creating something bigger than themselves.”

This follows Greenleaf’s tradition of servant leadership, but with a twist.

Launching a Leadership Revolution shines because it gets into the specific work of leadership. It outlines many pages of work leaders must do, and explains which work to focus on most.

But the book seldom uses the word “work”, instead preferring the active “working.” Just the list of “working” items for leaders is worth more than the price of the book.

Maybe the best thing about this book is the authors’ ability to take traditional, classic leadership basics and give them new, profound definitions.

For example, the definition of learn goes from the old “a leader is always learning” to “a leader must be able to learn from anyone.”

Imagine the leadership revolution that would occur if top executives and government officials really did seek to learn from everyone!

Another example: The meaning of perform is transformed from “please your boss” or “improve the bottom line” to “persevere through failure to find success.”

This is the best definition of leadership performance I’ve ever read in print. And the book teaches the reader how to do it.

Likewise, the advice to develop others as leaders moves beyond all the clichés to become “learn to trust your people.” It includes fitting them to be truly trustworthy.

That’s what leadership should be– but seldom is even considered.

There are many other examples. This book is a revolution that builds on the best ideas and thinkers of the past by applying them in fresh new ways applicable to the information age.

We learn from case studies such as George Washington, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and many others right along with contemporary needs and challenges.

Above all, the book places leadership success squarely on the success of mentoring and gives excellent advice to mentors on how to help people bring out the leadership inside them.

Everyone serious about Leadership Education will want to read this book, and apply the principles to our learning and mentoring.

In truth, great leadership is simply using great influence for great things, and this book can help each of us do this.

In these times of government bailouts and “fixes,” it is important to remember that the American Dream never was a government program. The American Dream was a leadership revolution, where regular people chose leadership and became leaders.

This revolution is still needed today, perhaps more than ever before in history.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Book Reviews &Education &Leadership &Mission

Vampires as Aristocrats?

September 9th, 2010 // 11:42 am @

twilightposterIn the last few years, as the vampire genre has gone from cult popularity to fringe and then to mainstream and mega-bestseller, I have wondered what vampires signify to our culture.

The bestseller vampire story Twilight and its sequels swept American teen reading circles, and these books were also read by a lot of adults. When the movie came out, millions watched and book sales once again soared.

Knock-offs followed, and vampires are now a rapidly growing part of American pop culture. From libraries and bookstores to HBO and regular network channels to the movie theaters, vampire stories are growing in popularity and quantity.

This mainstream and even super-stream popularity of vampires is new to America. Even relatively obscure vampire works are now more popular than the highly-touted Dracula was in a past generation.

Heroes & Villains as Cultural Indicators

You can tell a lot about a culture by its heroes as well as its villains. Cowboys were the quintessential American heroes — leading sales of fiction books, movies and television programs for the bulk of the 20th Century.

Over time westerns evolved into science fiction and fantasy — fans were entertained by space cowboys, space shuttles and alien cultures rather than ranchers, running horses and various tribes of outlaws or Indians. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Narnia and so many others featured cowboy plots and characters albeit in new, unique and often fantastic settings.

Later, Americans adopted professionals as our heroes — mostly police officers on television and in movies, followed by doctors, with some lawyers, nurses, politicians, military pilots, firemen and even a few teachers thrown in to the mix.

Like cowboys and space heroes, the professionals met life head on, faced down and overcame difficulties, and showed the rest of us how to live in difficult times. They conquered enemies, lived their genius despite annoying bosses, solved difficult situations, and inevitably they all faced and mostly triumphed over deep personal weaknesses and crises.

Most of these heroes followed the patterns laid out by Shakespeare’s 22 major and numerous minor plotlines, and unique characters from MacGyver, Remington Steele or James Bond to Joan of Arcadia, the Cheerleader on Heroes or Hancock kept fans coming back for more.

Like Plutarch’s Lives, a series of stories that were widely read and studied closely by the American founding generation, nearly all of these pop heroes followed basic heroic patterns — think Hercules or John Wayne.

Vampires: A Different Mold

Vampires are different. They don’t save, they kill. They see themselves as superior, and secretly hold power over the lives of unsuspecting “normals.” They are the opposite of Men in Black; they are not cowboys or even outlaws but something altogether different.

Outlaws were at least the equals of the law-abiding cowboys, whereas vampires are entirely above and even beyond the law.

Back to my original question: What deep societal meaning(s) do vampires manifest? Or more to the point, what profound cultural theme(s) does their popularity indicate? They are too popular not to mean anything.

It is a real question. After all, cowboys, Starship captains, Jedi Knights, comic-book heroes, fantasy kings in hiding (who always carry swords with names), modern homicide detectives, CSI experts, sacrificing attorneys fighting for the little guy, skilled and romantic doctors, caring nurses, inspiring inner-city teachers, top gun pilots and so many more all fit the same heroic model.

But vampires? They are a different plotline, any way you look at it.

Then it clicked. I was researching the growth of class divides in America, and came across a reference in an ad for Harper’s magazine that asked if capitalists and vampires are the same, or something to that effect.

My mind was racing. Vampire. Capitalist. Upper class. Aristocrat.

Blood-Sucking Aristocrats

mooreimage1Note that I am not equating capitalism with bloodsucking. But let’s be clear — that analogy is widely accepted in our time.

It’s probably obvious to everyone but me that the growth of vampire-lit popularity coincided precisely with the Enron and following meltdowns of big business credibility.

I think the analogy is a stretch, and I think we are witnessing too little free enterprise rather than too much. I do believe that the worst types of aristocracy are vampirical in nature.

The parallels are numerous. Bloodsucking, powerful beings live and prosper by taking our very means of life from us. We have no power to fight back — they are too fast and powerful. We don’t even know what hit us when one of them attacks.

In such a situation, we are “lucky” to receive a mention of our demise in the newspaper.

Oh, and it turns out that there are bad vampires and good vampires. The good ones find other ways to feed themselves, leaving us mere humans our blood. These ones are our friends.

By the way, this separates American from European vampires. The old-country variety are much more ruthless and, frankly, the bloodier the better.

In contrast, Americans like their vampires to be “vegetarian” like the heroes in Twilight or HBO’s True Blood. Oh, and while European vampires are villains, in America the great heroes are the good vampires who protect humans from the bad vampires.

Reread the last few paragraphs and insert the word “aristocrat” wherever it says “vampire” to see how apt the analogy is.

A Recipe for Apathy & Dependence

The similarities continue. For example, the regular people feel that there is nothing you can do about “them.” “They” control everything, anyway, so why try to make a difference?

The only way to compete with them or fight them is to join them, to become one of them, and that is done by having one of them bite you.

“It takes money to make money,” we are told, or “it’s not what you know but who you know,” or “your wealth and success will be the average of the top five people you hang out with — so if you want more money, get some wealthy friends.”

Here’s my favorite: “It’s just business, nothing personal.” This is the attitude of all the bad vampires in the literature.

Compare the reassuring thesis of the “good” vampires: “You poor people, of course you can’t save yourselves. Don’t worry, we’ll fix everything for you. Trust us. We’re the good vampires. Just go on with your lives. We’ll take care of you.”

This is aristocracy at its worst and worst. Bad aristocracy takes, manipulates, forces, feels and acts superior, and sucks away our life and livelihood. In contrast, “good” aristocracy takes care of us like the inferiors it thinks we are.

Some people seem to be saying, “Thank goodness for these good, caring, powerful aristocrats who fix everything so we can just live our lives.” Maybe that’s too sarcastic.

But seriously, the analogy is powerful and should make us think.

The System Sucks

One thing is the same in nearly all vampire stories: the vampires hate their life. Many of them despise what they are. Again, the parallel is profound. Few aristocrats enjoy their system. True, they prefer being aristocrats to commoners, but both groups want something better.

Free, prosperous societies that have learned how to function without the painful traditions of class division have always boasted much happier people. In short, aristocracy is not a great system for anyone — even the aristocrats.

This may be the most frequent theme in English, French, Spanish and Russian literature. And these cultures know aristocracy!

Traditional Horror v. Vampires

I know that vampire and other dark literature has been around for a long time, but it has never been mainstream in America like it is now. In fairness, I am not a fan of any kind of horror. In fact, I don’t remember watching a horror movie since I was in high school.

I just don’t appreciate the darkness. I think movies should be uplifting and inspiring. Happiness is our deepest quest in this life, and I want my entertainment to directly help with this goal.

There is, of course, classic literature like Dracula, Frankenstein, Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, and a number of plays by Shakespeare that deal with dark themes, but in all of these the overwhelming messages are about overcoming temptations and inner weaknesses. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis followed this pattern.

Modern horror, however, seems to be all about the shock value. But I don’t think that most horror movies are about aristocracy.

Vampire works, in contrast, at least the recent stuff that is incredibly popular, are all about how we are starting to notice an upper class growing in the shadows, increasingly perceptible but not yet out in open daylight, and that seems to control so much and be incredibly powerful, mysterious and even scary.

Instead of calling them all villains, as the Europeans do, Americans are hoping that the “good” aristocrats will protect us against the bad ones. And more and more we are hoping to “get discovered,” win a reality-show contest, hit the lottery, or in some other way get bit by success and join the upper class.

Surprised Parents in a Fourth Turning

If this sounds overstated to you, you are in good company. A couple of years ago I mentioned the growing popularity of vampire literature to a group of very involved and caring parents. They were surprised at the topic, and in fact it only came up as I attempted to answer a question posed by a seminar attendee.

When I asked them how many of their kids were reading such works, only a couple raised their hands. I assigned them to go home and ask their kids that night about it, and to report back the next day.

The following morning, it was a surprised group — nearly all the attendees had learned that their children were reading about vampires.

When I got home I told this story to my own kids, mainly to teach them about the struggles of raising kids in some urban area. My oldest three teens started laughing.

“What?” I asked. They had been discussing a popular vampire series the day before I got home. They pointed out a lot of good lessons they had learned from their reading, and I read the books and had some long talks with them.

I would never have assigned these books, and I likely would have discouraged them from the series if I had known sooner what they were reading. Still, we had some positive discussions, and in fact it was this experience that got me wondering why so many youth are now in to vampires.

Welcome to the fourth turning. The youth want the power, speed, mystery and freedom of being entrepreneurs and part of the upper class. They also want to help the world, to increase freedom, peace and prosperity.

Those in the Y Generation (born between 1984 and 2007) don’t want to be Company Men. They want to be The Man, but a nice version of him. To them John Wayne is too selfish and mean, Luke Skywalker is too independent and insecure, and the CSI cops are too poor, bureaucratic and lonely.

That leaves two choices: Be a good vampire, or be the true friend of one. Consult the overwhelming bestseller Twilight and other popular vampire plotlines and characters to find out how to be good at these two roles.

Can We Defeat the Vampire Aristocrats?

tca_coverAristocracy is coming to America, and joining it or working for it is the most popular career of the future — unless, of course, regular people can drop their fear of the aristocrats and stand up wisely and effectively for freedom.

To do this, they’ll need the type of education that has always trained leaders — from the aristocratic leaders of Europe to the citizen leaders of America’s first 150 years.

There really is a difference between those who deeply know the classics and those who don’t. History is clear on this point. When only a few really know the classics, an aristocracy always dominates the people. This upper class controls, oversees, manipulates and lives off the blood, sweat and labor of the regular people.

When, in contrast, many study and apply the classics, they elect and oversee their leaders and vigilantly replace them when needed — freedom is maintained and flourishes. It is really that simple.

When the people are as fast, strong and wise as their leaders, no bloodsucking is allowed. When bloodsucking becomes the nature of hero and villain alike, and the young want to be one or the other — anything but the weak, oblivious masses described in Harry Potter and Twilight — a society is in trouble.

We are such a society. The classics are the answer. Unfortunately, telling the youth this is akin to the zealous but impotent religious preachers who fail in most vampire tales.

Youth believe what they are shown, and it is time for two generations of adults to get past their conveyor-belt education hangovers and finally set the example of getting the kind of great education necessary for a free people.

If this is too much for our generation, we might as well bare our necks and welcome the aristocrats.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Culture &Education &Government &Liberty

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