5 Words That Can Greatly Improve Your Education

The excerpt below is from Oliver DeMille’s Weekly Mentor. Click here for the full article.

Word One: Screening

Screening is the act of learning from the various screens in our lives—smartphones, tablets, smart watches, computers, televisions, electronic billboards, etc. ((See Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable, 2016, 88-89)

This is actually a warning word. Screening can often distract from experiential learning (really “being present”). It’s one thing to read about Cape Canaveral, or the Jefferson Memorial (apply this to the Parthenon, Pyramids, ocean, etc.), but it’s quite another to be there, to touch the marble, to feel the breeze and look out at the view while the sun beats down and the breeze ruffles your hair.

Sometimes learning is much more effective when we are doing something real. Likewise, visiting Valley Forge is great; visiting in the dead of winter is profound. Try walking barefoot for three minutes.

think read 3As author Kevin Kelly put it: “I am happy to read a digital PDF of a book, but sometimes it is luxurious to have the same words printed on white cottony paper bound in leather. Feels so good. Gamers enjoy fighting with their friends online but often crave playing with them in the same room.

People pay thousands of dollars per ticket to attend an event in person that is also streamed live on the net”, often for free. (Ibid., 71)  Sometimes really “being there” makes a big difference.

In the Digital Age, “experiential” also means reading in a book, looking at art in a museum where the pieces are original and you can see the depth and contours of oils on the canvas, or attending a play or concert in person. These days we get so much of our input from screens that these more tactile experiences heighten our learning.

As Kelly wrote:

“Screen culture is a world of constant flux, of endless sound bites, quick cuts, and half-baked ideas. It is a flow of tweets, headlines, instagrams, casual texts, and floating first impressions. We should properly call this new activity ‘screening’ rather than reading. Screening includes reading words, but also watching words and reading images….

“Neurological studies show that learning to read changes the brain’s circuitry. Instead of skipping around distractedly gathering bits, when you read you are transported, focused, and immersed…. One can spend hours on the web and never encounter this…. [Online, a person] gets fragments, threads, glimpses.” (Ibid., 88-91)

This kind of immersion, or flow, that can occur while reading books is an essential part of quality education—and it seldom happens while screening. It happens even less with mobile screens than on a fixed television or computer station.

Of course, screening is also an essential skill in the Information Age. But people who learn to truly read—closely, analytically, creatively—can access this skill when they’re screening. They hardly ever learn it by screening, however.

For example, even with all the increased activity on electronic devices over the past two decades, “The literacy rate in the U.S. has remained unchanged in the last 20 years…” (Ibid., 89) Still, “those who can read are reading and writing more.” (Ibid.) If you have a quality reading education, screening is a powerful tool. If you don’t, it hardly ever gives you the thinking, reasoning, or creative skills that are needed.

“Book reading [strengthens] our analytical skills…. Screening encourages rapid pattern making, associating one idea with another…” (Ibid., 104) Both are needed to deal with the many new ideas expressed so frequently in our modern world, and to simultaneously be able to effectively discern, think about, and see the ramifications of such ideas. Fast is good. But wise is crucial.

Quality learning involves both real-life experiences and also reading and writing (which require real thinking), that are removed from screens. Both reading and screening are important. But without moving well beyond screens and classrooms, education will tend to be fairly shallow, narrow, and limited.

Click here for the full article.

The Battle of Fort McHenry

Francis-Scott-Key-654x821My daughter just sent me a Facebook link to a patriotic video of Pastor Rutherford preaching at the  Shepherd of The Hills Church in California back in 2010.

He passionately tells the story of the origin of the hymn “The Star Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key, and the Battle of Baltimore.  His is a moving rendition of history and unfortunately, mostly inaccurate.

I am taking the time to point out these misstatements only to make the point that today with instant access to information, when we embellish a story, we also give the enemies of truth and right the opportunity to discredit the very cause we are trying to promote.

What is even sadder is the fact that the historical account of the Battle of Fort McHenry or the Battle of Baltimore can easily stand on its own two feet and inspire patriotism without embellishment. Expanding the account actually cheapens it.


All of the statements below have been pointed out by other writers. Some pointed out these inaccuracies in an effort to discredit the speaker and down play patriotism. Some just wanted to get the story right.

Either way, not being accurate will always do more harm than good.


1.) Pastor Rutherford states that “the colonies were engaged in conflict with the mother country.” Rutherford continuously refers to “the colonies” throughout the video, which reveals very poor chronology on his part. Technically, the “Colonies” had ceased to be colonies since the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, some 30 years before the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812.
scene_10_web2.) We do not know how many prisoners Key was negotiating for but it is almost certain that it was not an entire ship full. In fact, we only know for sure that he was securing the release of one prisoner, Dr. William Beanes.  From the Library of Congress website:

When the British invaded Washington in 1814, Ross and Cockburn with their staff officers made their headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the residence of a planter, Dr. William Beanes, whom they subsequently seized as a prisoner. Upon hearing of his friend’s capture, Key resolved to release him, and was aided by President Madison, who ordered that a vessel that had been used as a cartel should be placed at his service, and that John S. Skinner, agent for the exchange of prisoners, should accompany him. Gen. Ross finally consented to Dr. Beanes’s release, but said that the party must be detained during the attack on Baltimore.


3.) Rutherford continuously refers to the fort as “Fort Henry.” It was actually called Fort McHenry.


4.) Rutherford claims that Admiral Alexander Cochrane, who was in command of the British naval forces, informed Key that he was going to reduce Fort McHenry to rubble. This isn’t true. The British had no intention of destroying the fort but instead wanted to capture it.


5.) Contrary to the Rutherford account, there were less than 20 ships involved in the Fort McHenry Bombardment, not hundreds.











6.) By all accounts there were no women or children in the fort. There was one woman killed in the bombardment but she was not living there. She was simply trying to bring her husband and other men dinner, a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.


7.) There is no evidence that men from the fort held the flag up “until they died” and that “the patriot’s bodies” were piled around the flag pole. Fewer than 10 American soldiers were killed in the bombardment.


I am a patriot and a lover of liberty. I support the sharing of the story of freedom. It is a long and rich account of Public Virtue. Human beings sacrificing personal interest for the benefit of others. We don’t have to make stuff up, it’s already in the history books.  Just tell the straight story.


A Capital Campaign That Anyone Can Afford



Monticello College 2016/2017 Capital Campaign

It is time to increase our efforts in building Monticello College and that takes money.

This capital campaign will raise $200,000. This campaign has three purposes:

  1. Build our Endowment ($25,000)
  2. Provide Scholarships ($100,000)
  3. Construction of Dining Hall (phase one) ($75,000)

The plan is simple: 1,000 donors contributing $10 per month for 18 months.

While things are tough in the world generally, America is still a land of plenty.



The average American family throws away $2,116 in food as waste per year (or $44 per person per month), spends $850 on soft drinks annually (that equates to $71 per month), and the average American adult consumes $21 worth of coffee per week (or $1,092 of coffee per year).

It is clear that we live blessed lives and have enough to enjoy luxuries.



It is also true that most Americans still love this country and value freedom in spite of the problems we may see on the horizon.

So we thought that you would jump at the chance to help protect our liberty and way of life by contribute a mere $10 per month to help us build the next generation of principled American leaders and Statesmen (a man or woman of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy, and courage who inspires greatness in others and moves the cause of liberty).



Since the average American household uses $4,430 in electricity per year beyond typical needs and spend more than $1,200 in fast food per annum, we thought that asking for $10 a month would fit into your budget without cramping your style.

We have a fantastic program here and are only asking for $10 per month for 18 months to help us grow our campus and build these students into exemplary Americans and Statesmen.

This is a capital campaign so you will be hearing a lot about this over the next year. Join us in our cause of building great Americans and Statesmen at Monticello College.



Monticello College is a 501 (c) (3) educational institution. All donations are tax-deductible.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE and support Monticello College.






Here are a few highlights of campus life:

Aristotle and Lysistrata

Our Outdoor Classroom

Kicking Back On Campus

CLICK HERE to see more than 25 videos.

Conversation With A Student

downloadThe following is a short conversation with an online Masters student who is the mother of 6 with all her kids still at home.

From: Monticello College Student – MA in Natural Law

Subject: Readings

Date: June 24, 2016 12:02:07 PM MDT

To: Doctor Brooks <sb@monticellocollege.org>

Found an accountability partner which is huge. Still only got 9ish hrs this last week but that’s a great improvement over the abysmal 3 weeks prior.

Trying to go back and really understand Strauss and that darn book puts me to sleep within MINUTES of picking it up. So frustrating. Maybe I’ll try again after we finish Aristotle.

Class today was good. I liked the discussion. I’m concerned that I’ve become familiar with the works but don’t have anything of my own to say. Does that make sense? Trying to think about what I could write to add to the great conversation as it were, and just facing a blank wall.

Looking forward to digging into Ethics again.

From: Doctor Brooks <sb@monticellocollege.org>

Subject: Readings

Date: June 24, 2016 14:07:07 PM MDT

To: Monticello College Student – MA in Natural Law 

Let’s be realistic. Every single author in the great books spent decades if not a lifetime developing the ideas we are reading.

Is it even possible that we could have something to contribute after only a few hundred hours maybe even a couple years of study?

I would suggest that right now is not the time for contribution to the great ideas but a time to thoroughly understand and find ways to apply the truth to our lives from these life changing concepts.

But anyone can say that they are applying these truths to their lives… that’s a Sunday school answer.

The real test is are you actually doing the application. It is in the doing, it is in the applying of the truth that you will then come to new understanding and actual contribution.

New American Founders

From: Monticello College Student – MA in Natural Law

Subject: Readings

Date: June 25, 2016 10:02:07 AM MDT

To: Doctor Brooks <sb@monticellocollege.org>

I see your point. Will I be like Isthmene or Antigone? Am I blinded by desire for power/prestige/control (Eteocles) or do I seek for justice/equality/to keep my word (Polynices)?

Do I pride myself in the knowledge I’ve gained such that I am closed off to learning and understanding more (Euthyphro) or do I recognize that to be truly wise I must acknowledge how little I know (Socrates)?

How do I use the examples from the readings to evaluate and improve my own life and current trajectory?

Thanks for helping me gain some clarity and perspective.

Readings referred to in this post:

Antigone, Sophocles

Seventh Letter, Plato

Crito, Plato

Apology, Plato

Earth Art

The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth) is where we learned to build with “Super Adobe.”