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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.

 

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Category : Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Science

The Latch-Key Generation & Independents

September 16th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

The rise of Independents isn’t an accident. It is the natural result of both major parties emphasizing politics over principle and ideology over pragmatism.

A third reason for the rise of Independents is the widespread loss of blind faith in man-made institutions (like government and corporations) as the answers to society’s challenges.

These institutions have failed to perform, over and over, causing many of even the staunchest state- and market-loyalists to feel skeptical.

Fourth, the e-revolution has created a technological power of the citizenry, at least in the ability to widely voice views that diverge from the mainstream parties.

The Internet gave Independents (and many others) a voice. People who believed in common-sense pragmatism and principled choices over party loyalty have been around for a long time, but the e-revolution was needed to give them group influence.

But all of these reasons are really just after-the-fact justifications for why so many people are no longer channeled politically through one of the top parties.

They explain why people aren’t Republicans or Democrats, but they don’t explain why Independents are Independents.

Some Independents are actually from the far right and just anti-liberal, and others are leftists who are Independents because they are anti-conservative. Some are one-issue Independents, emphasizing the environment, feminism, race, the gold standard, etc.

A growing number of Independents, however, are Independents because they believe in a shared new ideal.

They have faith in both government and the market, but only to a certain extent. They are truly neither liberal nor conservative, but moderate. They want government and markets to work, and they want to limit both as needed.

Still, they are not just moderates, they are something more.

Three Versions of Management

What makes these Independents tick? They are motivated by a new focus, a set of goals surprising and even confusing to anyone who was taught that American politics is about right versus left, conservative versus liberal, family values versus progressivism, religious versus secular, hawk versus dove, and all the other clichés.

Independents are something new.

Daniel Pink argues that business is going through a major shift, that the entire incentive landscape of employees, executives and even owner-investors is changing.

Our ancestors were motivated mostly by “Management 1.0,” Pink says, which was a focus on physical safety and protection from threats.

“Management 2.0” came when people learned to produce things in a routine way, from planned agriculture to industry.

People became more motivated by a “carrot-and-stick” model of “extrinsic motivators.” Managers, teachers, parents and politicians created complex systems of rewards and punishments, penalties and bonuses to achieve results in this new environment.

In this model, conservatives are 1.0 because they want government to limit itself to protecting its citizens from external threats, to national security and legal justice.

Liberals support a 2.0 model where the role of government is to incentivize positive community behaviors by people and organizations, and also to enforce a complex system of punishments to deter negative behavior.

In education, 1.0 is the one-room schoolhouse focusing on delivering a quality, personalized education for each student.

In contrast, 2.0 is a conveyor-belt system that socializes all students and provides career rewards through job training, with benefits doled out based on academic performance.

The problem with 1.0 is that education is withheld from some based on race, wealth and sometimes gender or religion.

The 2.0 version remedies this, ostensibly providing democratic equality for students from all backgrounds; but the cost is that personalization and quality are lost, and a de facto new elite class is created by those who succeed in this educational matrix.

On the political plane, 1.0 promoted freedom but for an elite few, while 2.0 emphasized social justice but unnecessarily sacrificed many freedoms.

Version 3.0 combines freedom with inclusion, and this is the basis of the new Independents and their ideals.

It may seem oxymoronic to say that pragmatic Independents have ideals, but they are actually as driven as conservatives and liberals.

Independents want government, markets and society to work, and to work well. They don’t believe in utopia, but they do think that government has an important role along with business, and that many other individuals and organizations have vital roles in making society work.

They aren’t seeking perfect society, but they do think there is a common sense way in which the world can generally work a lot better than it does.

Mr. Pink’s “Management 3.0” is a widespread cultural shift toward “intrinsic motivators.” A growing number of people today (according to Pink) are making decisions based less on the fear of threats (1.0), or to avoid punishments or to obtain rewards (2.0), than on following their hearts (3.0).

This isn’t “right-brained” idealism or abstraction, but logic-based, rational and often self-centered attempts to seek one’s most likely path to happiness.

Indeed, disdain for the “secure career path” has become widely engrained in our collective mentality and is associated with being shallow, losing one’s way, and ignoring your true purpose and self.

This mindset is now our culture. For example, watch a contemporary movie or television series: The plot is either 1.0 (catch or kill the bad guys) or 3.0 (struggle to fit in to the 2.0 system but overcome it by finding one’s unique true path).

Settling for mediocrity in order to fit the system is today’s view of 2.0.

In contrast, the two main versions of 3.0 movies and series are: 1) Ayn Rand-style characters seeking personal fulfillment, and 2) Gene Rodenberry-style heroes who “find themselves” in order to greatly benefit the happiness of all.

Where the Greeks had tragedy or comedy, our generation finds itself either for personal gain or in order to improve the world.

Whichever version we choose, the key is to truly find and live our life purpose and be who we were meant to be.

And where so far this has grown and taken over our pop-culture and generational mindset, it is now poised to impact politics.

Few of the old-guard in media, academia or government realize how powerful this trend is.

Generations

Independents are the latch-key generation grown up.

Raised by themselves, with input from peers, they are skeptical of parents’ (conservative) overtures of care after years of emotional distance.

They are unmoved by parents’ (liberal) emotional insecurity and constant promises. They don’t trust television, experts or academics.

They don’t get too connected to any current view on an issue; they know that however passionate they may feel about it right now, relationships come and go like the latest technology and the only one you can always count on is yourself.

Because of this, you must do what you love in life and make a good living doing it. This isn’t abstract; it’s hard-core realism.

Loyalty to political party makes no sense to two generations forced to realize very young the limitations of their parents, teachers and other adults.

Why would such a generation give any kind of implicit trust to government, corporations, political parties or other “adult” figures?

Independents are more swayed by Google, Amazon and Whole Foods than Hollywood, Silicon Valley or Yale.

Appeals to authority such as the Congressional Budget Office, the United Nations or Nobel Prize winners mean little to them; they’ll study the issues themselves.

Their view of the experts is that whatever the outside world thinks of them, they are most likely far too human at home.

Officials and experts with noteworthy accolades, lofty credentials and publicized achievements make Independents more skeptical than star-struck.

They grew up with distant and distracted “corporate stars” for parents, and they aren’t impressed.

Having moved around throughout their formative years, never allowed to put down deep roots in any one town or school for long, why would they feel a powerful connection to country or nation?

If the government follows good principles, they’ll support it. If not, they’ll look elsewhere.

They understand being disappointed and having to move on and rely on themselves; in fact, this is so basic to their makeup that it is almost an unconscious religion.

If this all sounds too negative, consider the positives. The American founding had many similar generational themes.

Raised mostly by domestic help (parents were busy overcoming many out-of-the-home challenges in this generation), sent away to boarding schools or apprenticeships before puberty, the founders learned loyalty to principles over traditions, pragmatic common sense over the assurances of experts, and an idealistic yearning for improving the world over contentment with the current.

Today’s Independents are one of the most founders-like generation since the 1770s. They want the world to change, they want it to work, and they depend on themselves and peers rather than “adults” (experts, officials, etc.) to make it happen.

Independent Philosophy

There are many reasons why Independents don’t resonate with the two major parties, but this is only part of the story.

Most Independents aren’t just disenfranchised liberals or conservatives; they are a new generation with entirely new goals and views on government, business and society.

This is all hidden to most, because the latch-key generation isn’t vocal like most liberals and conservatives.

Trained to keep things inside, not to confide in their parents or adults, growing numbers of Independents are nonetheless quietly and surely increasing their power and influence.

Few Independents believe that there will be any Social Security monies left for them when they retire, so they are stoically planning to take care of themselves.

Still, they think government should pay up on its promise to take care of the Boomers, so they are happy to pay their part. Indeed, this basically sums up their entire politics.

They disdain the political debate that so vocally animates liberals and conservatives, and as a result they have little voice in the traditional media because they refuse to waste time debating.

But their power is drastically increasing. The latch-key Independents raised themselves, grew up and started businesses and families, and during the next decade they will increasingly overtake politics.

Like Shakespeare’s Henry V, they partied through the teenager stage, leaving their parents appalled by generational irresponsibility and lack of ambition, then they shocked nearly everyone with their ability and power when they suddenly decided to be adults.

Now, on eve of their entrance into political power, few have any idea of the tornado ahead.

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

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.

 

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Category : Business &Culture &Current Events &Generations &Government &Independents &Politics &Technology

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.

 

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Category : Book Reviews &Education &Leadership &Mission

Mini-Factories: The Greatest Freedom Trend of Our Time

September 14th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

The following is an excerpt from Oliver’s recent book, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

If freedom is to reverse the onslaught of American and global aristocracy, it will likely do so through the greatest freedom trend of our time.

This trend is revolutionizing institutions, organizations, relationships, society and even nations around the world. It is still in its infancy, and many have yet to realize its potential.

The experts tend to overlook it because it seems small. It will likely always seem small because it is a “bottom-up” trend with no “top-down” organizations, alliances, or even affiliations.

Truthfully, it isn’t even a single trend at all–it is thousands of small trends, all following a similar pattern.

Malcolm Gladwell called part of this trend “outliers,” Harry S. Dent called it the “customization” explosion, Alvin Toffler said it is the wave of “revolutionary wealth” as led in large part by “prosumers,” John Naisbitt named it the “high touch” megatrend, Stephen Covey called it the 8th Habit of “greatness,” Daniel Pink coined the descriptor “free agent nation,” and Seth Godin refers to it as “tribes.”

Others have termed it “social entrepreneurship,” “the new leadership,” “a new age,” and even “the human singularity.”

All of these touch on facets of this freedom trend, but I think the best, most accurate and descriptive name for it is the “mini-factory” model.

Modernism came with the factory–the ability to mass produce. This revolutionized the world–economics, governments, how we spend our time each day, what we eat and wear, relationships, the size and functions of our homes and cities, etc.

Today the mini-factory is changing everything just as drastically.

In ancient times the wealthy set up estates or fiefdoms to cover all their needs, and the masses worked to provide the needs of their aristocratic “superiors.”

In modern times the factory provided mass goods and services.

Imagine the impact on everything in our lives if each family could provide all, or even many, of its needs for itself–and do it better than kings or politicians ruling over working peasants or even corporations employing workers to produce goods and services.

Such is the world of the mini-factory.

How Does a Mini-Factory World Function?

For example, what if parents could educate their children better than local school factories, with the best teachers, classes and resources of the world piped directly into their own home?

What if a sick person had more time and motivation to research the cases of her symptoms than the factory doctors, and the availability of all the latest medical journals right on her computer screen?

She would also have holistic works, original studies, alternative and collaborative experts, and the ability to email the experts and get answers in less time than it would take to wait in the hospital lobby.

Ten friends would likely send her their experiences with similar illness within days of her mentioning casually online that she was sick. If she chose a certain surgeon, a dozen people might share their experiences with this doctor.

What if a mother planning to travel for family vacation could just book flights and hotels herself, without calling the “expert” travel agent? Maybe she could even choose seats on the flight or see pictures of her hotel room–all in her own home between her projects and errands.

Welcome to the world of the mini-factory. I purposely used examples that are already a reality. But they were just a futuristic dream when writers like Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt predicted them before 1990.

Technology has helped it, but the impetus of the mini-factory trend is freedom. People want to spend less time at the factory/corporation and more time at home. They want to be more involved in raising their children and improving their love life.

In an aristocracy, these luxuries are reserved for the upper class. In a free society, anyone can build a mini-factory.

What is a Mini-Factory?

A mini-factory is anything someone does alone or with partners or a team, that accomplishes what has historically (meaning the last 150 years of modernism) been done en masse or by big institutions.

If a charter school provides better education for some of the community, it’s a mini-factory. If it does it at less cost and/or in less time spent in the classroom, so much the better. A homeschool or private school can be a mini-factory.

Of course, if the charter, private, or home school does a worse job than the regular factory, it is a failed mini-factory.

If joining a multi-level company and building it into a source of real income serves you better than an employee position, it’s a mini-factory.

If downsizing from a lucrative professional job in Los Angeles to a private practice or job that pays much less but allows you twice as much time with your family and a more relaxed lifestyle in, say, Flagstaff or Durango and makes you happier, it’s a mini-factory.

Entrepreneurship, alternative education, the downshifter movement, environmental groups, alternative health, the growth of spirituality, community architecture, the explosion of network marketing, home doctor visits, the rebirth of active fathering, and so many other trends are mini-factories.

How do Mini-Factories Impact Freedom?

It all comes down to this: Big, institutional, non-transparent, bureaucratic organizations are natural supporters of aristocracy. Freedom flourishes when the people are independent, free, and as self-sufficient as possible.

I am not suggesting going backwards in any way.

Forward progress is most likely in a nation that is both well educated and highly trained, where big institutional solutions are offered wherever they are best and individuals and groups seek smaller solutions where they better serve their needs, where free government enterprise rules apply and there are no special benefits or perks of class (either conservative aristocracy or liberal meritocracy), and where government, business, family, academia, religion, media, and community all fulfill their distinct, equally-important roles.

Such a model is called freedom. It has been the best system for the most people in the history of the world, and it still is.

To adopt freedom in our time, either the aristocracy must give up its perks and voluntarily restructure society, or the masses must retake their freedoms bit by bit, day by day, by establishing mini-factories.

Mini-factories will be more successful if each person only does a few, and does them with true excellence.

Freedom will flourish best if there is no organization or even coordination of the mini-factories; if individuals, partners, families and teams identify what is needed in the world and in their own lives and set out to deliver it.

This is especially hard in a time like ours where the employee mindset wants someone to “fix” things (like the economy, health care, education, etc.), exactly when an entrepreneurial mindset is most needed to take risks and initiate the best and most lasting changes.

If real, positive, and effective change is to come, it will most likely be initiated by the people acting as individuals, small groups, and teams.

If it comes from the top, it will tend to only bring more aristocracy, and the day of freedom will be over for now.

Whatever your mini-factory contribution might be, consider that it will help determine the future of freedom.

Is it Worth the Challenge?

Mini-factories can be hard to establish and challenging to build. Many people fail once or several times before they learn to be effective.

But the type of learning that only comes from failing and then trying again is the most important in building leaders and citizens who are capable of maintaining freedom in a society.

Note that this very type of education is rejected in a training model of schooling, where failure is seen as unacceptable and students are taught to avoid it at all costs.

This mindset only works if an aristocracy is there to take care of the failures.

In a freedom model, citizens and leaders learn the vital lessons of challenges; failures and wise risk-taking are needed.

Starting and leading a mini-factory, and indeed all entrepreneurial work, is challenging.

Those who embraced this difficult path in history established and maintained freedom, while those who embraced the ease of past compromises sold themselves and their posterity into aristocracy.

In the long term, though, aristocracy is much harder on everyone than freedom.

What Will You Build?

As you consider what mini-factories you should support, start, and build, just ask what things could be done (or are being done) better by a small mini-factory than by the big organizations that try to control nearly everything in our world.

If it could be done just as well by a mini-factory, the change to the smaller entity can drastically promote freedom. If it can be done even better by a mini-factory, it is better for life itself!

The mini-factory is the new vehicle of freedom.

Take a mini-survey: What are your pet complaints? Government? Develop family government models. Health Care? Educate yourself on prevention and self-care. Education? Learn the principles of Leadership Education. Media? Start a blog. Entertainment? Develop a group of hobbyists who share your interests, whether it be Harley road trips, ice fishing, scrapbooking, etc.

You get the idea: Live deliberately, and do not wait for institutions to change to meet your needs.

Do not waste your energy or good humor on complaining.

Find a mini-factory that does it right and get behind it–or start one yourself. So many are needed, and they can bring the miracle of freedom!

The future remains unseen. It is the undiscovered country.

Many ancients felt that fate drove the future, but the idea of freedom taught humanity to look each to his/herself, to partner with others, and to take the risk to build community and take action now in order to pass on a better life to our children and our children’s children.

Today, that concept of freedom is waning–slowly and surely being replaced by a class culture.

Those who love freedom, whatever their stripe–be they green, red, blue, rainbow, or anything else–are needed. They need to see what is really happening, and they need to educate themselves adequately to make a difference.

The most powerful changes toward freedom will likely be made by mini-factories, in thousands and hopefully millions of varieties and iterations.

Aristocracy or freedom–the future of the globe–hangs in the balance…

Click here to learn more about the mini-factory trend and to purchase a paperback copy of The Coming Aristocracy. Click here to download two hour-long webinars with Oliver DeMille explaining mini-factories.

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

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.

 

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Category : Aristocracy &Business &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers

America’s Seven-Party System

September 9th, 2010 // 12:23 pm @

High school civics classes for the past century have taught that America had a two-party system.

And up until the end of the Cold War, this was true. Each party had clear, distinct values and goals, and voters had simply to assess the differences and choose which to support.

Such clarity is long gone today, and there is no evidence that this will change any time soon.

As a result, more people now call themselves “Independents” than either “Democrats” or “Republicans.”

We are led today by the contests and relations of seven competing factions, or parties. These major factions are as follows:

Republicans
1. Nixonians
2. Reaganites
3. Populists

Democrats
4. Leftists
5. Leaders
6. Special Interests

Either/Neither
7. Independents

Neither party knows what to do about this. Both are plagued by deep divisions. When a party wins the White House, these divisions are largely ignored.

During a Party’s time in the White House, the underpinnings of the party weaken as differences are downplayed and disaffection quietly grows.

Fewer people wanted to be identified as Republicans with each passing year under the Bush administration, just as the Democratic coalition weakened during the Clinton years.

This is a trend with no recent exceptions. Being the party in power actually tends to weaken popular support over time.

Governance v. Politics

The emerging and improving technologies of the 1990s and 2000s have reinvented government by forcing leaders to constantly serve two masters: governance and politics.

Governance is a process of details and nuance, but politics is more about symbols than substance.

As I stated in The Coming Aristocracy, before the past two decades politics were the domain of elections, which had a compact and intense timeline.

After elections, officials had a period to focus on governing, and then a short time before the subsequent elections they would return to politics during the campaign period.

Now, however, governors, legislators and presidential administrations are required to fight daily, year-round, on both these fronts.

Both major parties struggle in this new structure. Those in power must dedicate precious time and resources to politics instead of leadership.

Worst of all, decisions that used to be determined at least some of the time by actual governance policy are now heavily influenced by political considerations, almost without exception.

Power facilitates governance, but reduces political strength. Every governance policy tends to upset at least a few supporters, who now look elsewhere for “better” leadership.

While Republicans and Democrats accomplish it in slightly different ways, both alienate supporters as they use their power once elected.

The Loyal Opposition

The party out of power has less of a challenge, but even it is expected to present alternate governance plans of nearly everything — plans which have no chance of ever being adopted and are therefore a monumental misuse of official time and energy — instead of focusing on their vital role of loyal opposition which should ensure weighty and quality consideration of national priorities.

The temptation to politicize this process is nearly overwhelming — meaning that the opposition party has basically abandoned any aspiration or intent to participate in the process of governing and become all-politics, all-the-time.

As a result, American leadership from both parties is weakened.

With the advancement of technology in recent years has come the increased facility for individuals to not only access news and information in real time, but to participate in the dialogue by generating commentary, drawing others’ attention to under-reported issues and ideas and influence policy through blogging, online discussions and grassroots campaigns.

An immensely important consequence of this technological progress has been the fractionalizing of the parties.

Republicans: The Party of Nixon vs. The Party of Reagan

Both Nixon and Reagan were Republicans, but symbolically they are nearly polar opposites to all but the most staunch Republican loyalists.

Reaganites value strong national security and schools, fiscal responsibility, and laws which incentivize small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises.

Nixonians value party loyalty over ideology, government policy that benefits big business and large corporations, international interventionism and winning elections.

A third faction in the Republican community are the populists.

Feeling disenfranchised by the loss of the Party to the Nixonians, the populists want Americans to “wake up,” realize that “everything is going socialist,” and “take back our nation.”

Identified with and defined by talk-show figureheads with shrill voices, the populists are seen as more against than for anything. They believe that government is simply too big, and that anything which shrinks or stalls government is patently good.

A Bad Day To Be A Populist

The populists are doomed to perpetual disappointment, since any time they win an election they watch their candidate “sell out.”

It is hard to imagine a more thankless job than that of the candidate elected by populist vote; once she takes office she is consigned to offend and alienate either her constituents or her colleagues — most likely both.

She is either completely ineffective at achieving the goals of her constituency, or, if she learns to function within the machine, she has no constituency left.

Any candidate who tries to work within the system will lose her appeal to the populists.

ron_paul_photo_4If such a candidate stays focused on principle, like the iconic Ron Paul, many populists will admire his purity but will criticize his lack of substantive impact — his accomplishments are seen as almost exclusively symbolic.

Some of the most influential populist pundits (like Rush Limbaugh) have lost “believers” by being outspokenly populist when it supports the party agenda (like during the Clinton Administration and later in rejecting McCain’s presidential candidacy as too moderate/liberal) and then switching to support the Party (backing President Bush even in liberal policies and supporting McCain when he became the Republican nominee).

This is seen by detractors as manipulative, corrupt and Nixonian at worst, and self-serving, hypocritical and opportunist at best.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Populism is considered “crazy” by most intellectuals in the media and elsewhere.

This is probably inevitable and unchangeable given that the same things which appeal popularly (such as alarmism, extremism, labeling, using symbols, images, hyperbole and appeals to sentimentalism) are considered anti-truth to intellectuals.

Indeed, part of training the intellect in the Western tradition is to reject the message of such deliveries without serious consideration, and dismiss the messenger as either unfit or unworthy to have a serious debate on issues.

Wise intellectuals look past the delivery and consider the actual message. This being said, even when weighed on its own merit the populist message is unpopular with intellectuals.

Populism is based on the assumption that the gut feelings of the masses (The Wisdom of the Crowds) are a better source of wisdom than the considered charts, graphs and analysis by teams of experts.

This hits very close to home for those who make their living in academia, the media or government. So our system seems naturally to pit the will of the people against the wisdom of the few.

Crazy Like a Fox

It is interesting to compare and contrast this modern debate between the wisdom of the populists and that of experts and officials with the American founding view.

The brilliance of the founders was their tendency to correctly characterize the tendencies of a group in society and employ that nature to its best use in the grand design in order to perpetuate freedom and prosperity.

In fact, the American framers did empower the masses to make certain vital decisions through elections. Madison rightly called every election a peaceful revolution.

And, the founders did empower small groups of experts: the framers had senators, judges, ambassadors, the president and his ministers appointed by teams of experts.

Only the House of Representatives and various state and local officials were elected by the masses, and the House alone was given power over the money and how it was spent.

In short: The founders thought that the masses would best determine two things:

1. Who should make the nation’s money decisions, and
2. Who should appoint our other leaders.

Riddle: When Is A Democracy Not A Democracy?

The founders believed that most of the nation’s governance should come from teams of experts, as long as the masses got to decide who would appoint those experts and how much money they could spend.

Such a system naturally empowers and employs both populism and expertise.

If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

Compare today’s model: Senators are now elected by the populace and the electoral college has been weakened so that the popular vote has much more impact on electing a president than it once did (and than the founders intended), thus increasing the power of the popular vote.

Yet many of the same intellectuals who support ending the electoral college altogether ironically consider populists “crazy” and “extremist.” The incongruity is so extreme that is no wonder many conclude that there must be some dark, conspiratorial agenda driving this trend.

Talking Heads

The reason for this seeming paradox is simple: Where the founding era actually believed in the wisdom of the populace to elect, modern intellectuals seem to believe that few of these “crazies” actually believe what they say they believe.

Many intellectuals think that populists, conservatives and most of the masses are simply following the views provided by talking heads.

For them, populist “wing nuts” have been duped by the sophistries of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or some other “self-serving anti-intellectual.”

But at its core, the alarmist and wild antics of populist pundits are not the real reason many intellectuals question the sanity of conservative populists.

The deeper reason is that few intellectuals believe that sane people don’t want more government.

They understand Nixonian Republicans and their desire for more power, government support of Big Business and less regulation of corporations. They may not agree with these goals, but they understand them.

They also understand poor and middle class citizens wanting more government help.

And they even understand the Reaganesque vision of fiscal responsibility along with strong schools, security and increased incentives for small business.

Does No Mean Yes?

What intellectuals struggle to understand is lower and middle class voters who don’t want government programs.

For example, few of the populist “crazies” who oppose President Obama’s health care would be taxed to pay for it, and most would see their family’s health care benefits increased by Democratic plans.

So why would they — how could they — oppose it?

Rich right-wing leaders who would bear the costs for health care must have convinced them.

This is a logical conclusion. Rich people opposing higher taxes makes sense. Lower and middle class people supporting increased government aide makes sense.

Rich talk show hosts telling people Obama’s plan is bad makes sense. The people being duped by this makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense, what few intellectuals are willing to accept, is that large numbers of non-intellectuals are looking past alarmist talk show host antics, closely studying the issues and deciding to choose the principles of limited government over direct, personal, monetary benefit.

Intellectuals could respect such a choice; lots of citizens refusing government benefits to help the nation’s economy and freedom would be an amazing, selfless act of patriotism.

But they don’t believe this is happening.

Instead, they are concerned that the “wing nuts” are following extremist pundits and unknowingly refusing personal benefit. That’s “crazy”!

This view is reinforced by the non-intellectual and often wild-eyed way some populists act and talk about the issues.

In this same vein, intellectuals also naturally support the end of the electoral college because it would naturally give them, especially the media, even more political influence.

The most frustrating thing for intellectuals is this: The possibility that these “crazies” aren’t really crazy at all — that they actually see the biased focus and struggle for power by the intellectual media and don’t want to be duped by it.

Such a segment of society naturally diminishes the potential influence of the media, and is treated by many as a threat.

By the way, many conservative populists claim to be Reaganites. In fairness, they do align with a major Reagan tenet — an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-insider, anti-government attitude. These were central Candidate Reagan themes.

However, once in office, President Reagan governed with big spending for security, schools and the other Reaganite objectives listed earlier.

This is a typical Republican pattern. For example, compare the second Bush Administration’s election attacks on Clinton’s spending with the reality of Bush’s huge budget increases — far above Clintonian levels.

Democrats: Leftists, Leaders and Special Interests

Having covered the Republican Party, the discussion of the Democratic Party will be more simple.

The three major factions are similar: those seeking power, those wanting to promote liberal ideas, and the extreme fringe. Let’s start with the fringe.

Where Republican “fringies” call for the reduction of government, Democratic extremists want government to fund, fix, regulate and get deeply involved in certain special interests.

And while conservative populists are generally united in wanting government to be reduced across the board, Democratic special interests are many and in constant competition with each other for precious government funds and attention.

While Republican extremists see the government, Democrats and “socialists” as the enemy, Democratic radicals see corporations, big business, Republicans and the House of Representatives (regardless of who is in power) as enemies.

Republican “crazies” distrust a Democratic White House, the FBI, Hollywood, the Federal Reserve, Europe, the media and the Supreme Court.

Democratic “crazies” hate Republican presidents, the CIA, Wall Street, Rush Limbaugh, hick towns, gun manufacturers, Fox News and evangelical activists.

Republican extremists like talk show hosts and Democratic extremists like trial lawyers.

How’s that for stereotyping?

A Rainbow Fringe

The Republican populist group is one faction — the anti-government faction. Radical Democrats are a conglomerate of many groups — from “-isms” like feminism and environmentalism to ethnic empowerment groups and dozens of other special interests, large and small, seeking the increased support and advocacy of government.

One thing Democrat extremists generally agree on is that the rich and especially the super-rich must be convinced to solve most of the world’s problems.

Ralph Nader, for example, argues that this must be done using the power of the super-rich to do what government hasn’t been able to accomplish: drastically reduce the power of big corporations.

Because Democrats are currently in power, the extreme factions have a lot less influence within the party than they did during the Bush years — or than Republican extremists do under Obama.

The call for a “big tent” is a temporary utilitarian tactic to gain power when a party is in the minority. When a party is in power, its two big factions run the show.

Call the two largest factions the “Governance” faction and the “Politicize” faction.

For Democrats, the Politicize faction is interested in maintaining national security while trying to reroute resources from defense to other priorities; increasing the popularity of the U.S. in the eyes of the world and especially Europe; promoting a general sense of increasing social justice, racial and gender equality, improved environmental and energy policy; and improving the economy.

A major weakness of this faction is its tendency toward elitism and self-righteous arrogance.

Is That Asking Too Much?

The Governance faction has to do something nobody else — the other Democrat factions, the Republican factions, the Independents — is required to accomplish. It has to bring to pass the following:

  • Keep America safe from foreign and terrorist attacks
  • Pass a health care bill that convinces Independents of real reform within the bounds of fiscal responsibility
  • Bring the unemployment rate down — preferably below 7% within the next year
  • Keep the economy from tanking

Capturing The Middle Ground

If the Democratic Governance faction accomplishes these four, it will achieve both its short-term governance and its political goals. If it fails in any of them, it will lose much of its Independent support.

The Obama Administration will maintain its base of Democrat support basically no matter what. And the Republican base will remain in opposition regardless.

But without the support of Independents, the White House will see reduced influence in Congress and the 2010 elections.

And when Democrats create scandals like Clinton’s handling of his affairs or the Obama Administration’s “war on Fox News,” Independents see them as Nixonian, responding by distancing themselves both philosophically and in the voting booth.

Independents are powerfully swayed by “The Leadership Thing,” and Obama clearly has it (as did both Reagan and Clinton — but not Bush, Dole, Bush, Gore, Kerry or McCain). It is doubtful that Candidate Obama will lose in 2012.

But “The Leadership Thing” runs in candidates only — not parties.

Obama won because so many independents supported him. Independents are a separate faction that truly belong to neither party.

Indeed, President Obama united most Democrats to support health care reform — partly by taking on Republicans. If a reform bill takes effect, he will likely win the support of Independents by taking on his own party on a few issues and playing back to the middle.

This is power politics.

The 7th Faction: Independents and Independence

Who are these people that vacillate between the parties? Are they wishy-washy, never-satisfied uber-idealist pessimists? Are they the weakest among us?

Why don’t they just pick a party and show some loyalty, some commitment, like Steelers fans or staunch religionists?

Actually, independents are the most consistent voters in America. True, they fluctuate between parties and seldom cast a straight party ballot, but they vote for the same things in nearly all elections.

In contrast, party loyalists stick with their party even when it adopts policies they patently disagree with. Some might argue that this is a more “wishy-washy” way to approach citizenship and voting.

Independents watch the issues, candidates and government officials very closely, since they don’t rely on party platforms to define their values or on affiliations to bestow their trust.

What They Want

Independents want strong national security, open and effective diplomacy, good schools, policies that benefit small businesses and families, social/racial/gender equality, and just and efficient law enforcement.

They see a positive role for government in all these, and dislike the right-wing claim that any government involvement in them is socialistic.

For example: Taxing the middle class to bail out the upper-middle class (bankers, auto-makers, etc.) is not socialism; it’s aristocracy.

Independents are unconvinced by Republican arguments that government should give special benefits to large corporations, or Democratic desires to involve government in many arenas beyond the basics.

Independents care about the environment, privacy, parental rights, reducing racial and religious bigotry, and improving government policy on immigration and other issues.

A Tough Sell

On two big issues, health care and taxation, Independents side with neither Democrats nor Republicans.

They want good health care laws that favor neither Wall Street corporations (a la Republican plans) nor Washington regulators (e.g. Democratic proposals). They want health care regulations that are truly designed to benefit small businesses and families in order to spur increased prosperity.

Independents want government to be strong and effective in serving society in ways best suited to the state, but they expect it to do so wisely and with consistent fiscal responsibility.

They tend to see Republicans as over-spenders on international interventions that fail to improve America’s security, and Democrats as wasteful on domestic programs that fail to deliver desired outcomes.

They want government to spend money on programs that work and truly improve the nation and the world. They are often seen as moderates because they reject both the right-wing argument against constructive and effective government action and leftist faith in more government programs regardless of results.

They want to cut programs that don’t work, support the ones that do, and adopt additional initiatives that show promise.

American Independents & American Independence

The future of America, and American Independence, will be determined by Independents.

Interestingly, Independents come from all six of the factions mentioned in this article. The one thing they all have in common is that they don’t see themselves as part of a specific party, but rather as independent citizens and voters.

The technologies of the past twenty years have made things more difficult for politicians, but they have made it easier for citizens to stand up for freedom.

What we do with this increase in our potential power remains to be seen.

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

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.

 

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Category : Aristocracy &Featured &Government &Independents &Liberty &Politics &Prosperity

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