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Education

Great Education in the Internet Age

October 8th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

As the old saying goes, “Leaders are Readers.” This has proven true generation after generation, and is still the reality today.

But there is a significant difference in the leadership value in different types of reading.

For example, few would doubt that there is a difference in benefits between reading the following items:

  • a technical manual
  • your friends’ Facebook entries
  • a work by Plato or Shakespeare
  • a historical, western, science fiction or fantasy novel
  • the prospectus for a financial investment
  • a romance novel
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • a tabloid magazine
  • a business self-help book

The list could go on. One could argue that all of these have some benefits, but the value would depend on what the reader was trying to gain from the reading.

In short, all reading is not the same.

As David Brooks wrote in the New York Times:

“Recently, book publishers got some good news. Researchers gave 852 disadvantaged students 12 books (of their own choosing) to take home at the end of the school year….They found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students….In fact, just having those 12 books seemed to have as much positive effect as attending summer school. This study, along with many others, illustrates the tremendous power of books….

“Recently, Internet mavens got some bad news. Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy examined computer use among a half-million 5th through 8th graders in North Carolina. They found that the spread of home computers and high-speed Internet access was associated with significant declines in math and reading scores.”

He concludes his analysis with this:

“Already, more ‘old-fashioned’ outposts are opening up across the web. It could be that the real debate will not be books versus the Internet but how to build an Internet counterculture that will better attract people to serious learning.”

Perhaps the key is to resurrect the word “great.” This word is often used (perhaps overused), in our society, but it is seldom used to mean what it originally meant.

“Great” has several meanings:

  1. huge, immense, grand
  2. distinguished, remarkable, impressive
  3. noble, heroic, majestic
  4. wonderful, fantastic, excellent
  5. complete, profound, utter
  6. unlimited, boundless, abundant
  7. major, momentous, weighty

“Great” can mean any one of these things, or a combination of a few or all of them.

Antonyms of the word “great” include: unimportant, small, minor, lowly, slight, awful, tiny, and ordinary. In academia, business and athletics, the word “mediocre” is also used as an antonym of “great.”

Now, consider some of the ramifications of applying more greatness to education, reading and learning.

What if children and youth were strongly encouraged to read a few of the greats in everything they read. For example:

  • 2 of the greatest technical manuals ever written, things like The Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams
  • 2 of the greatest works each by Plato and Shakespeare
  • 2 years of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report
  • 2 each of the greatest historical, western, science fiction and fantasy novels, titles like The Bridge at Andau, The Virginian, Lord of the Rings, etc.
  • 2 of the greatest romance novels ever, such as Gone With the Wind, Sense and Sensibility, etc.
  • 2 of the best tabloid magazine articles ever written, which have weathered the test of time and proven to be excellent and accurate (just the process of researching this would be a great educational project that would teach many lessons about good versus bad journalism)
  • 2 of the top business self-help books, such as works by Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, Paulo Coelho or Jim Collins
  • Some of the top Wall Street Journal articles ever published, things like “A Separate Peace” by Peggy Noonan
  • 3 of the greatest Facebook entries ever (examples anyone?)

Such readings, be they from books or newspapers or the Internet, are by their nature grand, remarkable, impressive, excellent, profound, momentous and weighty. Some are even abundant, noble, majestic and/or heroic.

In a word, they are great.

None of these would be unimportant, small, minor, lowly, slight, awful, tiny, ordinary or mediocre. Readers may agree or disagree with what they read, but they would at least be reading some of the greats.

This would help them judge the quality of other things they read by simple comparison.

Great readings greatly impact learning. What is an education without Tocqueville, Austen, Newton, Einstein, Aristotle, Virgil, Twain or Mother Teresa?

Unless we read the greats, our education simply cannot be accurately called great.

Beyond this, however, there are a number of great works being produced each year and in many mediums—from books to music, art to theater, cinema to mathematics, accounting to marketing, family relations to philosophy and religion, and from the Internet to all the latest social networking sites.

Great works are more easily found in some of these mediums than others, but all of them offer at least a few greats!

We just need to look for and share them—especially with the youth. Cultivating our taste for greatness, and our ability to detect it, is an important aspect of becoming “educated.”

On a related topic, the only free peoples in history were societies of readers! If we want to be free, we must read. Books matter, and great books matter greatly.

Other kinds of readings also produce some great work, and all of us can do better by simply adding more “great” readings into our lives. As we do this, our children and students will be more likely to follow our example.

Finally, in what ways can each of us help establish and support Internet content that is deeper, more excellent and truly greater reading material? This is a vital mission for many of us.

In one way, the Internet may be more effective at promoting great education than even books: Nearly all Internet content is interactive, meaning that youth naturally want to write about it as well as read it.

Where reading of books and writing of essays are usually separate processes in traditional education, the Internet can bridge the gap by naturally combining great reading with important writing.

If they are reading great works and ideas, learners will be more likely to write about great thoughts.

The problem is that without reading great things, great writing seldom occurs.

When children learn texting (entertainment) before they actively fall in love with and engage great books (learning), their writing won’t usually emphasize great thinking.

The greatly educated naturally use e-media to share and improve their education, while those with shallow education naturally take their shallowness to the keyboard.

In short, we can all benefit from bringing more great readings into our lives—wherever they are found.

But among children and youth, it is much more effective to learn from books first and later take up social networking only when they have something important to say.

When this order is reversed, many youth struggle to do the work of great education when life is dominated by e-entertainment.

In the Internet Age, great education is more available than ever—but only if children fall in love with books. And this is a lot more likely if their parents and teachers set the example.

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

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 &Information Age

The Entrepreneurial Foundations of Free Society

September 27th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Howard Gardner’s research suggests that there are fundamentally seven basic intelligences: literary, mathematical, artistic, musical, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

Modern education tends to emphasize basic knowledge in three of these (literary, mathematical and interpersonal) fields followed by career specialization in one.

During the American founding era that produced a generation of citizen-farmers and citizen-entrepreneurs who established the freest society in history, a different sort of education-career path dominated.

Today’s professionals and experts tend to be trained in problem solving under structured guidelines, whereas successful entrepreneurs seldom have the luxury of easily knowing what the problems are.

They have to figure out what the real issues are and define the problems, and only then find ways to solve problems and overcome roadblocks.

This requires high levels of initiative and resiliency, independent and analytical thinking, ingenuity and creative thinking, tenacity and self-analysis.

These entrepreneurial skills and talents are precisely those needed to establish and maintain freedom.

Intelligences

To prepare youth for success in entrepreneurial (and free) cultures, education tends to emphasize originality, creativity, breadth, depth and leadership skills rather than rote memorization, standardized curricula or socialization.

The latter skill set is vital in societies with strong upper classes employing the lower castes, but the former is essential to free democratic nations.

Where class societies tend to educate for general knowledge in literary, mathematical and interpersonal skills, entrepreneurial nations educate for depth in literary, mathematical, interpersonal, artistic, musical, spatial and intrapersonal (self-understanding, self-discipline, and self-starting) excellence.

Then entrepreneurial societies go a step further by educating to the hyphens.

This means using personalized and mentored learning in the greatest classics and works of mankind along with current original sources to establish skills and train experts in multi-intelligence categories.

Examples include many who used two or more intelligences to significantly impact societies, cultures, paradigms, governments, policies and worldviews:

  • Interpersonal-musicians like Mozart and John Lennon
  • Literary-artists such as Goya, Cecil B. DeMille, and M. Night Shyamalan
  • Interpersonal-literati like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and John Steinbeck
  • Spatial-artistry like gladiators, NASCAR, and the Louvre
  • Mathematical-artists like Michelangelo and Picasso
  • Literary-mathematicians like Newton, Einstein, and Hawking
  • Literary-intrapersonalists such as Tolstoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Goulding and Ayn Rand
  • Intrapersonal-mathematical thinkers like Montesquieu, Hume, Madison, Mises, Keynes, C.S. Lewis, and Buckminster Fuller

To make sense of this, consider a society where the youth become proficient in reading biographies of great leaders from Socrates to Washington and Andrew Carnegie to Ray Kroc and of effectively applying the lessons learned to their own lives.

Or where every young person knows both the formulas in calculus and also how to build and implement a business plan, including detailed financials, to turn “thin air” into great institutions of profit and non-profit value in society.

Skills

The lessons of such expertise naturally impact the prosperity and freedom of a society.

And such lessons come from depth in many of the intelligences instead of general education in only three and a specialty in just one.

Such widespread competency in reading, writing, persuading, leading, calculating, comparing, analyzing, thinking, creating, beautifying, composing, building, interacting, initiating, overcoming, enduring, changing, improving, motivating, self-starting, self-disciplining, self-guiding, teamwork, leading and serving are what the American founders idealized as quality education.

These are the necessary skills of successful entrepreneurship and also of societal freedom.

This level of education and expertise is developed by what Ken Wilber calls the Big Three of Buddhism: Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.

“Buddha” in this sense means combining one’s purpose or mission in life with developing oneself into a true and great servant of society.

The Greeks called this Fate and the American founders called it Providence.

By seeking to be guided by higher powers and higher purposes, a person becomes her best and as such greatly improves society through her efforts and contributions.

Buddha is credited with saying that “Our purpose in life is to find our purpose in life and then give our whole heart and soul to it.”

Sangha is one’s community, gathering, group or team. Working together with the right people, “we” do more than “I” ever could.

Good teams are diverse, individualistic, cooperative and united toward the same goals. They achieve most when they operate at peak levels.

Dharma is the truth, the true, the ideal. Dharma helps us know why we are here, what we are about, and therefore who we really are.

But Dharma is not about “I” or “We.” Rather it is about what we accomplish: the goal, the objective, the positive change we bring to the world through our best efforts and service.

In Christianity this is the Christian walk, the anointed purpose, the path.

Christianity’s equivalent of Sangha is the Church, and “Buddha” is the submission to Christ and His will.

Plato and secularists call these big three the good, the beautiful and the true, and psychology calls them the “I, We and It”—Buddha, Sangha and Dharma respectively.

In American politics these are citizen, the Constitution and freedom.

The lesson for education is that great learning is:

  1. Individualized
  2. Best achieved in interactive groups with mentors, peers, discussions, feedback and group projects
  3. Mission-driven

Again, the very skills and abilities created by this model are exactly those most needed in free society. Without them, entrepreneurial prosperity and political freedom decline.

Personality

Add personality types to the intelligences and skills, and our realization of the need for widespread entrepreneurial talent and experience intensifies.

Where the Greeks and moderns tend to break human personality into four dominant groups, symbolized by animals or colors or other models, the Old Testament emphasized twelve types and the New Testament adopted thirteen.

One of the most unique and profound systems of personality typing is the Enneagram.

The Enneagram was created by Muslims from the Sufi tradition, and is now popular in many multi-level and network marking circles.

Its nine types of people are distinct, deep and tend to resonate with nearly all readers. The nine types are essentially as follows:

  1. Reformer: principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic
  2. Helper: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive
  3. Achiever: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious
  4. Individualist: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental
  5. Investigator: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated
  6. Loyalist: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious
  7. Enthusiast: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered
  8. Challenger: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational
  9. Peacemaker: receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent

Of course, there is a lot more depth to this in the many volumes which describe it.

Interestingly, in traditional business the typical use of the Enneagram and other personality types like the Myers-Briggs is to help managers interact more effectively with their employees — and vice versa.

Teachers often use it to better understand and work with their students.

In entrepreneurial environments, however, the focus is quite different.

This can be understood in the following three steps:

  1. Understand your own top strengths so you can give them a lot more energy and greatly improve them.
  2. Identify those types on which you score at the mid levels, so you can develop them into strengths.
  3. Clarify where you are weak and team up with people who are extremely strong in these areas.

This flies directly in the face of much educational/career theory from the past half century, where the system has generally been satisfied with grade-level performance in a given subject, and focused special attention on the students’ weaknesses.

By contrast, teachers governed by entrepreneurial values in the classroom would have children spend much more time on their strengths than their weaknesses.

Those scoring high in math, for example, would take a lot more math than other students and in fact study math at the highest levels in special courses designed just for such students. The same would occur in all fields.

Teachers would also divide students learning to read, for example, not by levels but into teams where each team would include students from low, medium and high reading levels.

Corporate architecture would combine mail carriers, board members and everyone in between in adjacent offices and co-mingle everyone on all floors.

The Third-Turning value of efficiency would give way to the Fourth-Turning focus on growth as a community through individual excellence and synergistic cooperation.

This, by the way, is how nearly all entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses actually do things.

The consequences in society and governance are huge. Indeed, this is exactly the model of citizens and voters that America’s founders had in mind—all types of people mingled together, each equal as a citizen and before the law.

Freedom is the natural result.

And on the skills of applying such a model, small business leaders and entrepreneurs are years ahead of the rest of society.

The point is not, as most entrepreneurs will tell you, to turn things over to entrepreneurs or any other group of citizens. Such a plan would only create another style of class system.

The real solution is to have a lot more entrepreneurs in society. In the long term, this is achieved by giving America’s youth a true Leadership Education and naturally letting our society benefit as more entrepreneurs arise.

A quicker solution would be set in motion by simply de-regulating small businesses.

IQ vs. EQ

For a long time America used IQ as the measure of intelligence as well as a predictor of academic and career success.

IQ tests measured literary, mathematical and spatial intelligence, but little else. They basically ignored the other intelligences.

Daniel Goleman’s best-seller, Emotional Intelligence, showed how managers could become better leaders by also developing interpersonal, intrapersonal, and more artistic skills. He argued that EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important as IQ.

Pop culture tends to summarize these two as right brain (EQ) and left brain (IQ).

In this view, left-brain experts, professionals and executives have significantly different skill sets than right-brain artists, creative types and motivators.

It is all about the intellect versus the emotions, in society and in each of our personal lives.

The IQ monopoly resulted in many business authors writing that being too intelligent is not good for business, since many with a very high IQ were hired by mid-IQ bosses.

EQ shed some light on the situation, showing that successful entrepreneurship and innovation tend to blossom where analytical and creative skills are balanced.

High IQ with significantly lower EQ, or vice versa, tend a person toward specialized employment. Where right and left brain are generally equal, be it high or middle or even relatively low, initiative, risk, tenacity and leadership often flourish.

In short, many jobs require certain levels of IQ or EQ, but successful entrepreneurs either naturally have a balance of both or must develop one.

The old view that IQ can’t be increased is being replaced as we see many people who clearly break old barriers and disprove the experts.

Entrepreneurial success usually requires deep understanding of and skills in many of the basic intelligences.

General education courses in three of them and specialization in only one simply doesn’t work in the challenging real world of entrepreneurial competition.

Nor, for that matter, is it adequate to maintain freedom.

Eco vs. Ego

For years American politics has been dominated by two parties, one emphasizing success and the other nurture.

This battle of Ego versus Eco still drives most national debates.

Where one party is driven toward wealth, fame and progress, the other prefers to promote caring, service and acceptance.

One is self-centered and the other is inclusive. One sees private life as the highest good and the other wants government to solve all problems in society.

One prioritizes national security above all else and the other idealizes social justice.

More Americans now consider themselves independents, rather than loyal to either major political party, in part because we have reached a point where the majority of the nation’s citizens consider both Ego and Eco to be vital.

This has been the norm for entrepreneurs for many years. Indeed, entrepreneurs who try to put one above the other seldom succeed for long.

Small and entrepreneurial business leaders learn that both caring and drive are necessary.

The same is true of citizens who want to remain free. Indeed, the most important entrepreneurial skills and lessons are those most needed to promote free society.

Freedom is best supported by excellence and compassion, self-improvement and service, building wealth and taking care of other people and the earth.

Freedom requires a balance of analysis and creativity, intellect and emotion, wisdom and intuition, reflection and action.

Free societies are intelligent societies, because the broad citizenry must understand and protect its freedoms or it will lose them.

But a society cannot remain free by following a few geniuses at the top — this always destroys liberty.

The most prosperous and free civilizations are those where the majority of people develop and share their best personal genius.

Everyone has genius inside, and it is the purpose of Leadership Education to reveal it and help people develop it.

Career is the place where genius is then shared to benefit and improve the world. Finally, it is the purpose of free society to allow all to fully achieve and share their genius.

Entrepreneurial activity naturally seeks these peaks and balances. This isn’t new; it was the reality during the American founding and has been ever since.

The future will be no different. We all need to learn and apply this truism: However small business goes, so goes the nation.

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 : Arts &Education &Entrepreneurship &Leadership &Producers

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.

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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

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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

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