While some jobs/careers do require specialized training, the scheme of requiring a degree in most cases, is more a function of credentialism and jumping through hoops than actual job preparation.
Just ask the thousands of employers who interview tens of thousands of “qualified” applicants only to find themselves forced out of necessity to hire perfectly credentialed and completely ill-equipped employees.
Historically (1636-1920’s), American higher education was designed to build character, not train for employment.
Almost all job training (beyond day labor) was accomplished through apprenticeship.
But during the 1940’s to 1980’s the educational plan promoted by higher education was to secure a degree, which would lead to 40-50 years of service to a single company, after which the employee would retire with a good pension.
Today, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average employee will hold no less than 14 distinct jobs or career positions with different companies and in different fields over the same 40-50 years with little to no retirement plan.
Other statistics show that 75% of all college graduates do not secure employment in the field of their degree and the percentage increases significantly a decade after graduation.
So attending college for the purpose of job training for a single career has been obsolete for 20 to 30 years. This being the case, what is the point of college education?
From the perspective of history, the rationale for a liberal arts college education has never changed—at least in the United States, it has always been to build individual character and national citizenship. It was never designed to train students for employment—that was the role of the free market.
The legacy of American higher education training independent, self-supporting citizens who were highly literate, well versed in history and literature, philosophy and languages, science and mathematics, law and virtue, and devoted to Deity was the foundation of American society for nearly 400 years.
This educational legacy which lasted from the 17th century well into the 20th, perpetuated a culture of the single income American family with mother caring for the children and the family supporting father in the family business or ranch/farm. It promoted a sense of honesty over prosperity, family values and fidelity over selfish needs and wants, service over entertainment.
So why is that legacy not our standard today? Why has the percentage of active Christians declined decade after decade for the past sixty years?
The answer is easy—we have forgotten who we are. The strength of America has always been her fiercely independent, creative and religiously reverent people. A people who used their Yankee ingenuity and their Puritan work ethic to solve any problem or hardship that came their way. It was a culture grounded in doing what is right—even at a loss, where a hand-shake was as good as a written contract, and where people seemed to be in competition to sacrifice for the next generation. Until we recover our collective memory, we will suffer in the depths of bondage and ignorance.
This former sense of obligation to preserve the past and safeguard the future, to make decisions where money or entertainment are not the prevailing criteria, where thoughtful consideration of how our actions will impact our spouse, the rest of our family and the community at large, is the desired philosophical outlook of a liberal arts education.
Benjamin Franklin said it well when he declared that the purpose of education was to train us to, “pray as if we will die tomorrow and work as if we will live for 100 years.”
What Employers Want
Job training is a relatively easy process and in most cases only takes a few months of OJT.
Rather than credentials, what most employers really want are prospective employees who have a real work ethic, who are punctual, who value personal hygiene, who are creative, and exhibit initiative.
They crave employees who can follow the rules to perfection and at the same time, think outside-of-the-box to improve the rules for greater efficiency.
Employers want people working for them who are honest, who have common sense and who value loyalty.
Virtually none of these characteristics are part of modern job training diploma programs. Training citizens in the above-mentioned qualities in addition to an “abundant,” mind-opening education is the purpose of liberal arts education. I don’t know how to say it any clearer. And if you the reader, will stop for one minute and carefully consider what I am saying (especially employers) you will find yourself in agreement.
So why do we continue to promote a “job training” system of higher education when it has been failing to meet our workforce needs for so long?
Why are we so enamored with credentialism and the false security of a stable, long-term career?
What does the future hold for our children and grandchildren? Can we honestly see the current national structure maintaining prosperity?
Study History to Navigate the Future
Alexander Tytler, a university professor of history, a contributor to the Scottish Enlightenment, and a contemporary to the American Founding, taught that every 200-250 years, society completes a full revolution of this cycle:
For the past twenty years, we have taught that America was somewhere on the “pre-bondage” side of the cycle, between selfishness and dependence.
As we enter 2013, I think it is clear to anyone who will honestly look at the facts, that we have without a doubt entered the “bondage” phase.
Just consider the likely conclusions of three obvious trends in America today (and don’t forget the historical evidence):
- the direction and probable fate of the U.S. dollar/economy
- the direction of American culture
- the irreversible direction the U.S. national debt
This bondage phase will become more and more obvious over the next decade. What does this mean for our families and our finances? It means that we will soon need to adjust to a new standard of living. It means that those qualities and desired results of a liberal arts education will be in higher demand than ever before.
What does it mean for our form of governance? It means that government will increase dramatically as a top–down, anti-local, over-the-top taxing entity or it will fail and we will be left to our own devises in a very fractionalized, almost tribal environment.
Other cycles corroborate the Tytler Cycle and indicate that we will likely face war conditions on American soil within a decade. It means that those qualities and desired results of a liberal arts education will be in higher demand than ever before and may very well be the difference between creating solutions and increasing freedom or submitting to the powers that be—contrary to principles we know to be true.
Some would say that such talk is negative and doomsday-ish. We see it more as a reality with incredible potential opportunities to do good, to be righteous, and to provide true leadership—leadership that one must be prepared and trained for. We also believe that we have entered a time that requires a heightened awareness and frankness not found in a third turning (see the Fourth Turning).
Monticello College is the only institution of higher education in America that I know of, that is consciously preparing leaders and citizens for these historically sound inevitabilities.
Is this crazy talk? Only time will tell, but until our predictions come to fruition, we will continue to build Monticello College as a training ground for a new kind of leader—a leader needed to pilot a people out of bondage back into abundance.
This is an article worth reading. It is a liberal critic by a normally liberal news outlet.
It is the kind of scrutiny that all potential presidents should be subjected to (before the election) and it addresses the issue of racism.
—by Matt Patterson (Columnist, Washington Post, New York Post & San Francisco Examiner)
August 27, 2012
Years from now, historians may regard the 2008 election of Barack Obama as an inscrutable and disturbing phenomenon, the result of a baffling breed of mass hysteria akin perhaps to the witch craze of the Middle Ages.
How, they will wonder, did a man so devoid of professional accomplishment beguile so many into thinking he could manage the world’s largest economy, direct the world’s most powerful military, execute the world’s most consequential job?
Imagine a future historian examining Obama’s pre-presidential life: ushered into and through the Ivy League, despite unremarkable grades and test scores along the way; a cushy non-job as a “community organizer;” a brief career as a state legislator devoid of legislative achievement (and in fact nearly devoid of his attention, so often did he vote “present”); and, finally an unaccomplished single term in the United States Senate, the entirety of which was devoted to his presidential ambitions.
He left no academic legacy in academia, authored no signature legislation as a legislator. And then there is the matter of his troubling Associations: the white-hating, America-loathing preacher who for decades served as Obama’s “spiritual mentor”; a real-life, actual terrorist who served as Obama’s colleague and political sponsor.
It is easy to imagine a future historian looking at it all and asking: how on Earth was such a man elected president?
Not content to wait for history, the incomparable Norman Podhoretz addressed the question recently in the Wall Street Journal: To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken hater of America like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant terrorist like Bill Ayers, would have lasted a single day.
But because Mr. Obama was black, and therefore entitled in the eyes of liberal-dom to have hung out with protesters against various American injustices, even if they were a bit extreme, he was given a pass. Let that sink in: Obama was given a pass – held to a lower standard – because of the color of his skin.
Podhoretz continues: And in any case, what did such ancient history matter when he was also so articulate and elegant and (as he himself had said) “non-threatening,” all of which gave him a fighting chance to become the first black president and thereby to lay the curse of racism to rest?
Podhoretz puts his finger, I think, on the animating pulse of the Obama phenomenon – affirmative action. Not in the legal sense, of course. But certainly in the motivating sentiment behind all affirmative action laws and regulations, which are designed primarily to make white people, and especially white liberals, feel good about themselves.
Unfortunately, minorities often suffer so that whites can pat themselves on the back. Liberals routinely admit minorities to schools for which they are not qualified, yet take no responsibility for the inevitable poor performance and high drop-out rates which follow.
Liberals don’t care if these minority students fail; liberals aren’t around to witness the emotional devastation and deflated self-esteem resulting from the racist policy that is affirmative action. Yes, racist. Holding someone to a separate standard merely because of the color of his skin – that’s affirmative action in a nutshell, and if that isn’t racism, then nothing is.
And that is what America did to Obama. True, Obama himself was never troubled by his lack of achievements, but why would he be?
As many have noted, Obama was told he was good enough for Columbia despite undistinguished grades at Occidental; he was told he was good enough for the US Senate despite a mediocre record in Illinois; he was told he was good enough to be president despite no record at all in the Senate.
All his life, every step of the way, Obama was told he was good enough for the next step, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.
What could this breed if not the sort of empty narcissism on display every time Obama speaks? In 2008, many who agreed that he lacked executive qualifications nonetheless raved about Obama’s oratory skills, intellect, and cool character. Those people – conservatives included – ought now to be deeply embarrassed.
The man thinks and speaks in the hoariest of clichés, and that’s when he has his teleprompters in front of him; when the prompter is absent he can barely think or speak at all. Not one original idea has ever issued from his mouth – it’s all warmed-over Marxism of the kind that has failed over and over again for 100 years.
And what about his character? Obama is constantly blaming anything and everything else for his troubles. Bush did it; it was bad luck; I inherited this mess. Remember, he wanted the job, campaigned for the task. It is embarrassing to see a president so willing to advertise his own powerlessness, so comfortable with his own incompetence. But really, what were we to expect? The man has never been responsible for anything, so how do we expect him to act responsibly?
In short: our president is a small-minded man, with neither the temperament nor the intellect to handle his job. When you understand that, and only when you understand that, will the current erosion of liberty and prosperity make sense. It could not have gone otherwise with such a man in the Oval Office.
THIS REALLY BOTHERS ME. And it should greatly concern you.
How does a man of this caliber attain the highest office in the land?
How can a majority of the people be so duped? We are talking hundreds of millions here, and what does that say about our educational system?
And most importantly, what are we going to do about it? Sorry to say it, but electing a really good president (only time can tell) is not the answer. What happens when no really good candidate is running–lesser of to evils, right? If I hear that phrase one more time I think I will be sick.
Only its people can determine the long term direction of a nation. If a people are strong culturally, morally, economically, and are well educated, they will naturally choose good leaders who will continue providing leadership that promotes these things. If a people are culturally weak, bankrupt in both their morals and their finances, and have little personal discipline, they will always choose leaders who promise the moon, provide bread and circuses, and who look the other way.
From a historical perspective, things do not look good for Americans. Heard that before? Great, here are our current choices:
1. Become aware of our dire situation (foreign policy, economy, domestic affairs, culture, national morality, etc.) and develop a personal, family and community plan to rectify the deficiencies.
2. Acknowledge our real situation but continue as we are and hoping for the best, someone will eventually fit it.
3. Actually ignore our situation and living the good life as long as it lasts.
Personally, I am putting all of my eggs in basket number one. Other concerned citizens are helping me create a college that produces future moms and dads of the highest caliber, future citizens, business owners and community leaders who know and live by the Creed of Disinterestedness (a habit of high personal conduct, the mastery of all urgings that drive a man from his duty and the elimination of all calculations of benefit or gain at the expense of others) , and potencial state and national leaders who actually sacrifice for their country, voluntarily leaving office after a reasonable time of service, not having lined their own pockets in the process.
[Ed. note: This letter was originally circulated on the internet in an anonymous form, and only later began to be attributed to a Mr. M. Crowley. To protect Mr. Crowley's interests, we must note that Crowley & Associates of Wake Forest, North Carolina did not in fact write this letter. This website has received the following message from Michael Crowley:
From: Michael A. Crowley, PE
Sent: Friday, January 09, 2009 9:10 AM
Subject: In reference to the “To all my valued employees” letter currently circulating the internet:
This letter was forwarded to me by a colleague. While the letter may indeed be authentic, I was not the author and I do not know the identity of the original author.
I forwarded it to the “John McCain Joe the Plumbers” email group prior to the election. Someone moved my contact information into the body of the message making it appear that I was the author of the letter. I would appreciate your removing my contact information prior to forwarding this message.
To All My Valued Employees,
There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges.
However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.
Of course, as your employer, I am forbidden to tell you whom to vote for – it is against the law to discriminate based on political affiliation, race, creed, religion, etc.
Please vote for who you think will serve your interests the best. However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interest. First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story.
This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You saw my big home at last year’s Christmas party. I’m sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.
My entire living space was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.
My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying.
In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes.
Instead of hitting Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70′s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury.
I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business — with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had. So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9 am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5 pm, I don’t.
There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, sleep, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour.
Every day this business is attached to me like a 1 day old baby. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden — the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations… You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I’ve made.
Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.
Yes, business ownership has its benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why: I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough.
I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what?
I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time.
On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.
The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided approx 30 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?
Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country. The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy. Here is what many of you don’t understand. To stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy.
Had the government suddenly mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries.
But you can forget it now. When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? No, you defibrillate his heart. Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not hold a pillow to its face.
Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington, the best and brightest believe the non-producers are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. It’s amazing what an American education will get you these days. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of hope and change that will put you in the grave. So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you.
I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem anymore. Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive.
My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship. While tax cuts to 90% of America sounds great on paper, don’t forget the back story: If there is no job, there is no income to tax. A tax cut on zero dollars is zero.
Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of saving your job.
While the media wants to tell you “It’s the economy Stupid” I’m telling you it isn’t.
If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the Constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me in the South Caribbean sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about.
Signed, Your boss
This is an article I published with the Center for Social Leadership back on October 15, 2010.
I have re-posted it here to once again point out the need for engaged and active citizens.
Recently, someone ask me if I was happy with the changes in Utah State government (6 more Republicans in the House and 1 more in the Senate).
“What changes?” I said.
“You know, the legislature is more conservative now.”
“Really? When did that happen?” I inquired.
“I only see a changing of the guard, new representatives making many of the same old promises that nearly always get forgotten or reneged on. We don’t know if these new officials are going to make any positive changes or not until they have been in office long enough to prove themselves.
“Until then, (and maybe never), we will have no change.”
He squinted his eyes and stared at me as if I was speaking in code.
I continued, “Who is going to make sure they follow through on their promises? Who is going to call-them-out on bad decisions as they enact them, instead of waiting as usual for the damage to be noticeable to even non-observers after a three-term run of damaging behavior and failed campaign pledges?”
“Until and unless we change our behavior as citizens, no changes will likely occur except the changing of the names of the people holding office.”
My friend just looked away, oblivious to any meaning I was trying to convey.
This is more and more evident every time I reread The 5,000 Year Leap, or the writings of Jefferson, Adams, Tocqueville or review our founding documents—until We the People seriously and permanently assume our role as jealous protectors of our unalienable rights and actively engage in fulfilling our unalienable duties, we have no reason to expect positive pro-liberty change.
This of course would require American citizens to make some lifestyle changes of their own . . . don’t hold your breath.
But then there are my students and many others. Citizens who do care enough to learn what our unalienable rights and duties are and how to exercise them.
Thank you for doing your duty. Thank you for caring enough for future generations to take responsibility for your liberty and vouchsafe theirs.
We must learn how the founders established sound government founded in natural law and then reapply the original principles in new ways to refresh liberty.
If you care about liberty and if you are looking for ways to be a better citizen and even make a difference and a real change, here are a few recommendations:
Spend just one hour a day reading what I call New American Founder™ type material. A few examples are:
- The 5,000 Year Leap, Skousen
- An Education for Our Time, Bunting
- The Roots of American Order, Kirk
- The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, Liberty Fund
- 1776, McCullough
- The American Classics Series (Jefferson, Washington, Franklin), NCCS
- The Federalist Papers, Madison, et al
- The Anti-Federalist Papers
- Democracy in America, Tocqueville
Other things you can do include:
- Invite one or two couples over for a meal and assign a small reading (no more than 5 or 6 pages) for dinner discussion.
- Consider attending your local city council meetings for a few months consecutively (it will only have the desired effect if you are consistent).
- Develop a family study program around local, state and national government. Teach your children the principles of government as it is happening on a daily basis—not in a static, disconnected manner.
- Consider running for a local office and plan to only serve one term.
- Find new ways to volunteer in your community, preferable outside of your own religion.
- Learn a new language.
- Watch less TV and play more with your kids.
- Court your spouse.
Yes, we need change. Only God knows how much change we need if we are to live in the republic the founders designed for us.
But the kind of change we have been hearing about for some time now (Obama change and conservative change) is nothing more than the same old thing—more and more government and less and less liberty.
I am in agreement with many of the Founders; regardless where we are, things can always be improved with the application of sound governmental principles.
But before we can apply them we must take the time and exert the effort to learn them.
Fallacy Number 1: Learning should be fun.
The worst criticism of our time is that something is boring, as if that made it less true or less important or less right.
There is nothing wrong with fun, but there is everything wrong with a society whose primary purpose is to seek fun.
In American society, particularly among those under 40, the love of fun is the root of all evil. This is the legacy of the sixties—seeking fun has become a national pastime.
With respect to the education of an adult, fun is simply not a legitimate measurement of value.
Things should be judged by whether or not they are good, true, wholesome, important or right. Commercialistic society judges things by whether they are profitable, and even socialism judges whether something is fair or equitable.
No fancy buildings or curricula or assemblies or higher teacher salaries change this core principle.
Learning occurs when students study, and any educational system is only as good as the student’s attention span and the quality of the materials.
Now, study can be fun, but it is mostly just plain old-fashioned hard work, and nearly all of the fun of studying comes after the work is completed.
In essence, there are really two kinds of fun—the kind we earn (which used to be called “leisure”), and the kind that we just sit through as it happens to us (entertainment). There are very few things in life as fun as real learning, but we must earn it. And this kind of fun always comes after the hard work is completed.
No nation that believes that learning should be fun, in the unearned sense, is likely to do much hard studying, so not much learning will occur.
And without that learning the nation will not remain free. Nor will people stay moral, since righteousness is hard work and just doesn’t seem nearly as fun as some of the alternatives.
No nation focused on unearned fun will pay the price to fight a revolutionary war for their freedoms, or cross the plains and build a new nation, or sacrifice to free the slaves or rescue Europe from Hitler, or put a man on the moon. We got where we are because we did a lot of things that weren’t fun.
Americans today believe that it is their right to have fun. Every day they expect to do something fun, and they expect nearly everything they do to be fun. Most adults eventually figure out that fun isn’t the goal, but many of today’s students firmly believe that learning must be fun; if not, they put down the books and go find something else to do.
The problem with this false lesson, besides the fact that some of the best teachers aren’t a bit entertaining, is that it assumes that teachers are responsible for education in the first place.
Now remember, I’m speaking of the role of adult and youth students to own their responsibility for their education.
This is not intended as license for parents and educators to abdicate the responsibility to be all that they can be as mentors.
But think of it: if we, as students, are waiting around for our teachers to get it right or else we’re not gonna study, who really loses?
Whose job is education anyway?
All of us have watched a movie with a bad ending, and since our goal in watching was to be entertained, we are upset that the movie ended that way. We blame it on whoever made the movie; it was their fault.
Our culture approaches teachers the same way—if we weren’t entertained or didn’t learn, it is their fault. “What kind of a teacher is he, anyway; I didn’t learn anything in his class.”
But if I don’t learn something in a class, it is my own fault, no matter how good or bad the teacher is.
Good teaching is a wonderful and extremely important commodity, but that is another essay, and it is not responsible for a student’s success. Students are. To tell them otherwise is to leave them victims who are forever at the mercy of the system.
And history is full of examples of students who owned their role and achieved greatness because they recognized that it was their job to supply the motivation and the effort to gain a great education.
And it is easier for parents and politicians to join the blaming game than to set an example of studying that will inspire their youth to action.
The impact on education is clear: We blame teachers and our schools for the problems, while we do everything except the hard work of gaining an education for ourselves, thus inspiring and facilitating our children to do the same.
The impact on freedom is equally direct: Students who have been raised to blame educational failure on someone else usually become adults who expect outside experts to take care of our freedom for us.
Even those who become activists tend to spend a lot of time exposing the actions of others, “waking people up” to what “they” are doing.
And whether “they” refers to conspirators, liberals, or the religious right, the activists seldom do anything about the situation except talk—in more shallow 30-second sound bite opinions.
A corollary of this false lesson is that students need a commercial every 8.2 minutes. We are conditioned to short attention spans, and therefore to shallow educations and nominal freedoms.
The reality is that unless you spend at least two hours on something, chances are you didn’t learn much. Without attention span, little is learned.
Fallacy Number 3: Books, texts and materials should be simple and understandable.
Now, mind you–I’m not suggesting that authors should be purposely obscure or irrelevant. I’m just returning to the idea that we, as students, must step up to whatever obstacles may be in our way.
It’s our job to do whatever it takes to get an education, no matter the quality or interest level of our materials.
But even beyond that obvious point, the problem with this error is that the complex stuff is actually the best, the most interesting, ironically the most fun, and certainly the most likely to produce individual thinkers and a free nation.
Consider the impact of simple materials on education.
For example, what kind of nation would the founders have framed had they been taught a diet of easy textbooks, easier workbooks, more quickly understood concepts and curricula?
A free people is a thinking people, and thinking is hard work—it is, in fact, the hardest work, which is why so little of it takes place in a society which avoids pressure and takes the easy path.
The only reason to choose easier curriculum is that it is easier, but the result is weaker graduates, flimsier characters, vaguer convictions and impotent wills.
Thucydides said it bluntly: “The ones who come out on top are the ones who have been trained in the hardest school.”
This is true of individuals and of nations.
I am not saying that everything that is hard has value, but I am saying that most things of value are hard. If your studies weren’t hard, really hard, chances are you didn’t learn much.
To be continued…..
A liberal arts education is your key to unlock the door of living for fulfillment, not just money. But can a liberal arts degree also make you money? Do the ideals of liberal arts have practical implications?
Warren Goldstein, the chair of the history department at the University of Hartford, published a fascinating article entitled “What Would Plato Do?” in the Yale Alumni Magazine.
“I went looking for Yale graduates who’ve had extremely successful careers in the business world,” writes Goldstein.
“…all of them recommend the liberal arts for those concerned with prospering in their world…Almost all the people I interviewed spoke of learning, as undergraduates, a mode of analysis deeper and ultimately more reliable and more creative than what they learned in business school.”
For example, Susan Crown, a principal of the Chicago investment firm Henry Crown and Company and self-described social activist, says, “A liberal arts education teaches you how to think: how to analyze, how to read, how to write, how to develop a persuasive argument.
These skills are used every day in business. A liberal arts education also offers the ability to focus on large ideas.
We live in a world where everyone is multitasking, often skimming the surface and reacting to sound bites.
But as undergraduates, we had the opportunity to read great literature and history, to focus and to consider.
This developed a standard of depth and care that calibrates our work for the rest of our lives.”
Robert Rubin majored in history before becoming a commodities and currency trader at Drexel Burnham. “Because I was a well- educated person, I was able to use that education in the forging of relationships,” he says. “I did a lot of business abroad, in cultures where being liberally educated matters more than it does here.”
Charles Ellis asserts that liberal arts lay the groundwork for strategic management of people. Even though he majored in art history, he later founded and ran for 30 years, the international business strategy consulting firm Greenwich Associates.
“Business management as it is now best practiced,” he says, “is the most liberating and creative and dynamic work people can be involved in: working all the time with human beings.
The only chance you have to be successful is to think of it as a humanistic engagement, as if everyone in your business is a volunteer and could get another job—and will get another job if you don’t deal with them in a way that they find important and meaningful, even exhilarating.
The more you can learn about them and how they work together, and have a chance to think in terms of a longer-term framework and broader vision— all this comes out of a liberal education.”
Donna Dubinsky, CEO of Numenta, was the business brains behind the PalmPilot and the newer Handspring Visor. She sees a strong analogy between history and business.
“Business is a giant jigsaw puzzle, with the market, product, right financial and people resources, understanding of the environment,” she reflects. “If all those pieces fit together, you do well in business.
If you focus on just some of the pieces, you won’t succeed.
History is a lot like that; you have to look at environment and technological development and philosophy and competition with neighboring countries. You learn to understand how critical context and complex systems are.”
Richard Franke, retired CEO of the investment firm John Nuveen & Co., adds, “Whatever has made you good and your firm a success is probably going to change within five years or so. You have to recreate the firm through an orderly process every five years.
If you hired only on the strength of the technical training a person has—well, you need someone who can think through a set of issues and come out the other side with a practical set of conclusions.
Because I was CEO of our company for 24 years, I had a unique opportunity to set the culture and to bring on people who could flourish in that culture. I looked for a liberal arts background.”
“Hire liberal arts majors in preference to business majors?” Goldstein asks. “Can Franke be serious? Yes, if the opinions of his peers are any evidence. Says Dubinsky, “I am not wild about business degrees for undergraduates; that’s a vocational-school sort of thing.
I would say, for an entry-level job, if I’m hiring people I would absolutely prefer a liberal arts degree to a business degree.”
Charles Ellis is still more emphatic: “For leaders and managers, an undergraduate degree in business is a genuine, serious mistake.
What you’re going to learn is an advanced version of bookkeeping; you never learn the most rigorous thinking taught in professional business schools. I don’t know anybody who recommends undergraduate study in business, certainly not over liberal arts, and I include science.”
At Monticello College, you’re going to dive into Socrates, Thucydides, Tolstoy, Jefferson, Dostoevsky, Durant, Machiavelli, Marx, Copernicus, Archimedes, Gandhi, Drucker, Kiyosaki and hundreds of other influential thinkers and classics.
You’ll come out the other side equipped to tackle complex business problems, organize community efforts, build a healthy family, and be a contributing citizen.