October 10th, 2011 // 10:54 am @ Oliver DeMille
The Jobs Plan We Need
In the furor over the national debt, deficits, stimulus programs, the Obama Administration’s proposed jobs plan and the Republican responses, we are missing a simple reality.
America right now is in desperate need of a clear, simple, overarching Grand Policy.
The Grand Policy would look something like this:
- Every new proposal in government that in any way impacts business and/or the economy will be measured by its likelihood of incentivizing economic growth, increased investment, and higher levels of quality employment. Only proposals which effectively encourage these things will become law or policy. Period. No exceptions.
- That’s Phase I. Phase II is to comb through all regulations that were adopted during the last ten years that affect business or the economy and apply the same standard. Any laws and policies that don’t incentivize economic growth, increased investment and higher private-sector hiring will be revoked.
- Phase III will carefully analyze each of the cancelled policies and determine if any are validly good for the nation. Those that meet this test will be reconsidered by Congress.
Some might argue that such a re-evaluation of our economic and business policies would be unwieldy, costly and time-consuming.
But this line of reasoning actually supports the need for this Grand Policy.
The reason this re-evaluation would certainly be unwieldy, costly and time-consuming is that far too many regulations have been adopted during the past decade.
This fact is a major cause of our national economic problems.
To reiterate the point, implementing such a Grand Policy would definitely be unwieldy, costly and time-consuming, but not nearly as unwieldy, costly and time-consuming as leaving such policies in place and seeing increased economic downturn, continually high unemployment, lessened investment, and most likely an inflation problem in the near future.
As to the question of who will do this work, what could be a better use of Congress’s time than to reboot economic growth by encouraging investment, growth and the resulting jobs?
Until these things are addressed, do we really want Congress working on other things?
We’re going to pay their salaries and those of their staff anyway, so why not put them on productive projects like revitalizing the economy.
In short, we need a Grand Policy that incentivizes economic growth, increased investment and more private-sector hiring.
Every policy affecting business and the economy must encourage these things.
It really is that simple.
If government policy discourages growth, investment and hiring, the result is less growth, investment and hiring.
This is where we are right now.
America is at a fork in the road, so to speak. If we take the road that continues to de-incentivize growth, investment and hiring, we’ll get less growth, investment and hiring.
I apologize for using such repetitive and basic language, but for some reason Washington doesn’t seem to grasp this reality.
For example, increasing regulations and taxes on small businesses and small-business owners—America’s proven job creators—is going to discourage growth.
Obviously, the three phases listed above are too simplistic—there is more complexity to such a change than is outlined here.
But it’s a good place to start.
Whatever the intricacies and difficulties of change, we simply must take on a national project of incentivizing business growth, investment and private-sector hiring.
If not, our economic problems are just beginning.
He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and 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.
October 3rd, 2011 // 10:57 am @ Oliver DeMille
We Need a Transformation!
A Review of Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative
This is an excellent book. Here are some of Robinson’s main points:
We are living in a time of global change, whether we admit it or not.
“As the world spins faster and faster, organizations everywhere say they need people who can think creatively, communicate and work in teams: people who are flexible and quick to adapt. Too often they say they can’t find them. Why not?”
Young children think they are creative; most adults think they aren’t creative. What causes the change over time?
The truth is that our educational system does a lot of harm to some of our most needed abilities and qualities. “Some of the most successful people in the world did not do well at school…. Many succeeded only after they had recovered from their education.”
With education so vital to advanced post-industrial society, why is it that the legacy of education now seems to include a reduction in creativity, initiative and innovation in so many people? And what can be done about it?
Robinson addresses these questions head on:
“Current approaches to education and training are hobbled by assumptions about intelligence and creativity that have squandered the talents and stifled the creative confidence of untold numbers of people.”
I was interested to note that people haven’t lost their creativity or creative ability, just their “confidence” in these abilities. Many adults are also out of the habit of using their creativeness. In my view, the conveyor-belt model of learning has caused this result in the lives of most people.
“This waste stems partly from an obsession with certain types of academic ability [e.g. rote memorization, early academic success rather than lasting academic interest, etc.] and from a preoccupation with standardized testing. The waste of talent is not deliberate. Most educators have a deep commitment to helping students do their best….
“The waste of talent may not be deliberate but it is systemic. It is systemic, because public education is a system, and it is based on deep-seated assumptions that are no longer true.”
The challenge is that given this systemic, structural reality in our educational models, the time for reform is past. “The challenge now is to transform them.”
“As Thomas Friedman, author of the World is Flat, puts it, ‘Those who are waiting for this recession to end so someone can again hand them work could have a long wait…. Those who have the ability to imagine new services and new opportunities and new ways to recruit work…are the new Untouchables. Those with the imagination to invent smarter ways to do old jobs, energy-saving ways to provide new services, new ways to attract old customers or new ways to combine existing technologies will thrive….
“Our schools have a doubly hard task, not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.’”
Top global business and public sector leaders “overwhelmingly agree,” Robinson notes, “that the single most important leadership competency for organizations to deal with [the] growing complexity is creativity.”
“All over the world, governments are pouring vast resources into education reform. In the process, policy makers typically narrow the curriculum to emphasize a small group of subjects, tie schools up in a culture of standardized testing and limit the discretion of educators to make professional judgments about how and what to teach. These reforms are typically stifling the very skills and qualities that are essential to meet the challenges we face: creativity, cultural understanding, communication, collaboration and problem solving.”
“The challenge now is to transform education systems into something better suited to the real needs of the 21st century. At the heart of this transformation there has to be a radically different view of human intelligence and creativity.”
- Increase access to education
- Change the way we educate
- Help students learn to ask more questions
- Promote a diversity of subjects, talents and interests
- Increase exposure to the arts and sciences
- Rethink disability as deep ability in something
- Personalize and individualize
- Help students become their best selves rather than emphasize fitting in
- Stop penalizing individuality
- Stop penalizing mistakes; promote mistakes as essential to the creative process and positive to learning
- Teach across the academic fields and remove barriers between topics of knowledge
- Officially make feelings as important to learning as thinking
- Make authenticity a key part of learning
- Stop acting as if life and learning are linear
- Restructure schools and businesses to encourage creativity
- Fund creativity, and give people time to be creative
- Allow each school to be unique
- Use new technologies to help individualize the education of each student
- Help the student be the primary creator of her own program
- Be creative and flexible with the schedule; great learning is the thing, not some list of rules, schedules and plans
This is a truly excellent list of educational transformations. This book is as important to America as Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy, or my own book A Thomas Jefferson Education—or at least it should be. Every educator, political official and parent should deeply consider how to apply the reforms it suggests. This is more than a great book, it is a necessary book.
If Robinson’s book has a weakness, it is that he gives too little attention to the role of teachers. He mentions how important teachers are, but in my opinion he doesn’t go far enough. The reality is that teachers are the lynchpin in all education and educational reforms. If you have a great teacher in the room with your student, you’ll watch the young person experience improved and eventually great education. If not, you won’t. It really is this simple.
Great teaching results in great learning, because great teachers inspire students to engage the act of getting a great education for themselves. Such education always increases creativity, innovation, imagination and initiative. Great teachers bring great education. Period. Even with all the changes listed above, without great teachers, very little real change will occur. With great teachers, however, such reforms will naturally catalyze a genuine transformation.
Maybe Robinson’s next book will be on how to be a great teacher. If we implement the suggestions he made in Out of Our Minds, even in our homes or a school where we have influence, we will be ready when such teachers come along.
September 26th, 2011 // 10:49 am @ Oliver DeMille
Here are some words that need to be closely considered, understood and discussed by the regular people who care about freedom:
- Civil Rights
- Common Law
- Fiscal Policy
- Foreign Policy
- Forms of Government
- Human Nature
- Jury of the Vicinage
- Liberal Arts
- Liberal Education
- Limited Government
- Local Government
- Loyal Opposition
- Mixed Government
- Monetary Policy
- Natural Law
- Political Economy
- Political Parties
- Popular Sovereignty
- Positive Law
- Private Property
- Public Office
- Public Opinion
- Public Policy
- Public Virtue
- Separation of Powers
- Social Contract
September 26th, 2011 // 3:51 am @ Oliver DeMille
Aquinas held that angels are intellectual beings because they know all things, while men are merely rational beings because they know little and therefore must figure things out.
Since each person must reason out each answer on his own to really use reason, the fact that others have outlined their thinking at every step makes reason easier to follow and to expand upon than intuition. Also, the argument goes, reason can be used to analyze and test intuition, while the opposite is seldom true.
The Bible discounted this view, comparing the rationalist “goats” with the more obedient and intuitive “sheep.” In much of Western culture, the term “sheep” became a negative name given to those who refuse to think things through.
Religious icon Aquinas, who certainly cannot be accused of not thinking things through,[i] argued that those who trust God’s full knowledge more than man’s limited knowledge are in fact more rational than those who believe in man’s abilities.
Ultimately, Aristotle taught, all demonstration rests on certain indemonstrable truths. Human rationalism can extend our understanding, as can science, but it cannot prove or disprove every detail.
However, rationalism is based on the assumption that there are truths in the universe, and that the use of our minds can help us learn these truths. In fact, modernism is based on this same concept.
For example, if there are no universal truths then math, logic and the scientific method are all flawed and useless. All of these depend on the ability to discover and detect truths that are out there.
Reason is the most democratic thinking method to date because it holds that each individual person can use it without depending on experts or elites.
In fact, it is how the regular people can analyze and test the words and assurances of the experts and elites. The other major methods of arriving at truth—from science, math and logic to theology, aestheticism and credentialism—depend on the assurances of experts.
Jefferson goes as far as saying that the people are bound by duty to use reason as they oversee government. The committee of founders which approved The Declaration of Independence agreed with this assessment.
A free people is a deep-thinking, well-read, independent-thinking people.
[i] His works are the longest and among the most logically and meticulously argued of the great books.
September 23rd, 2011 // 3:16 am @ Oliver DeMille
Note that the general concept of reason has changed since then. When most people think of reason today, they tend to mix it with the ideas of logic, science and determinism. In the American colonial and early republican era, this was not the case.
The term “science” was often used to mean general thinking and the idea of learning, and in this sense it coincided with the rational perspective. But today’s technical science, based on a general consensus of experts along with the empirical use of the scientific method, is quite the opposite of the rationalist viewpoint.
And logic, which is actually a branch of mathematics (rather than philosophy), is very different than reason.
Reason, in the original sense, is the use of one’s own mind to test and analyze the words of the experts, the ancients, and all authority.
In the founding generation, reason was a check and balance on the smug groupthink[i] of the upper classes and elites. Most of the leading founders usually used the term “right reason” rather than simple “reason,” since this first phrase carried the connotation that all right-thinking people would come to the same conclusions if they had the benefit of adequate information.
In this view, no king, priest, aristocrat or expert can rely simply on some claim to a “divine right” of expertise to be correct—each individual citizen can test everything said by the elites simply by taking the time to obtain all needed information and then think it through.
Forrest McDonald wrote in the introduction to Empire and Nation, a collection of writings by American founders John Dickinson and Richard Henry Lee:
“In the historical view, men have such rights as they have won over the years; in the rationalist view, men are born with certain rights, whether they are honored in a particular society or not.”
Using reason, leading American founder John Dickinson wrote:
“Ought not the people therefore to watch? to search into causes? to investigate designs? And have they not a right of JUDGING from the evidence before them, on no slighter points than their liberty and happiness?”[ii]
It is always up to the people to maintain their freedom, and one of the first steps is to think—independently as they see fit—regardless of the assurances, promises and statistics of experts and elites.
Throughout history, the experts have nearly always worked for the elites, and the regular people have held reason as their first line of defense. When the regular people put expertise, tradition, authority or official promises above their own reason, they have always lost their freedoms and prosperity.
Dickinson put it this way:
“Indeed, nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.”[iii]