On December 5, 2012, English rapper-poet Suli Breaks posted a video that took the internet by storm. With over 500,000 hits in the first couple of days, and over 2.5 million to date, this youtube video went viral almost the second it was released.
This young college graduate, turned self-styled poet, takes a strong stance on schooling, urging the world’s youth to “understand your motives and reassess your aims.”
“Let’s look at the statistics,” Suli Breaks says, pointing to moguls worth billions of dollars as examples of those who succeeded without graduating from a institution of higher learning: the late Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Jackson.
He also points to icons who are famous not for their money but for their impact such as Jesus, Muhammad, Socrates, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X, Spielburg, Shakespeare, Jesse Owens, and Beethoven.
He is not saying that education is a waste; on the contrary, he is simply saying that there is a huge gulf between education and schooling.
“Redefine how you view education; understand its true meaning,” Suli Breaks says. “Education is not just about regurgitating facts from a book on someone else’s opinion on a subject to pass an exam. Look at it. Picasso was educated in creating art. Shakespeare was educated in the art of all that was written. Colonel Harland Sanders was educated in the art of creating Kentucky fried chicken.”
Sometimes if takes a young black poet to help us see what is right in front of us.
To wrap up this series, let’s rely on history to show us a way out of Bondage. As was mentioned in part two, we not only rely on the 250-year society oriented Tytler Cycle to show us the way, but the more personal 80-100-year Century Cycle or Saeculum.
This last post is dedicated to the fourth and first turnings/seasons of the Century Cycle as described in chapter seven of our book, A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens. What follows is that chapter in its entirety.
History runs in cycles, and there is a pattern of four seasons repeated over and over, each about 20-25 years long. Like the seasons of the year, they come naturally and each feels different. These four seasons are called “turnings,” like turnings on a cycle, by authors Strauss and Howe in their book The Fourth Turning. The four seasons are:
1st: Founding. New institutions are built up to progress after the last crisis, like the United Nations, Social Security, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), NATO, and other organizations being created right after the Great Depression and World War II. Lots of businesses flourished in this period also.
2nd: Awakening. Youth grow up and challenge the old establishments, like the 1960s counter-culture movement at Woodstock, the Civil Rights movement led by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others, and strong pushes for Feminism and Environmentalism, etc.
3rd: Unraveling. Two big viewpoints and political parties fight for power, and everything seems like it will come apart. Economies boom. The last unraveling happened between 1984 and 2001, and the one before that in the “Roaring 1920s.”
4th: Crisis. Big problems come. Actually, crisis seasons usually consist of three crises in a row, sometimes overlapped. First is the wake-up crisis that shocks everyone, like the Boston Tea Party, the election of Abraham Lincoln, the 1929 stock market crash, which started the Great Depression. In recent times, it appears that 9/11 was such an event.
Second comes a major economic crises, and then, third, usually a major war, pandemic or a mixture of these all at the same time. The last several crisis seasons include The Revolutionary War and Depression, The Civil War and Depression, and the Great Depression and World War II. Sounds bad, huh?
We live today in a crisis era, and you will grow up and start your life, family and career in a Crisis or Founding season. The good news is that a Crisis Season is always followed by another Founding, just like winter always ends with spring!
The bad news, which is also the biggest challenge in all of this, is that when the Crisis comes almost everyone over thirty years of age is totally immersed in the rules of the last phase.
This means that even though the economic boom times and long periods of peace are over, most people keep making choices that reflect what worked before.
They make a lot of bad choices, because they don’t realize that the rules have changed.
For example, parents educated in 2nd or 3rd seasons often think that their kids should see education as job training. For 4th and 1st seasons, however, that is a big mistake.
Teens need to be prepared for entrepreneurship and initiative much more than specific job skills. There are many other differences between seasons.
Here are the leading rules of success in each turning. In each season, success is found in:
2nd and 3rd: Big Institutions, Professional Careers, Investment, Credentials and Resume, Leisure and Entertainment.
4th and 1st: Family and Community Relationships, Entrepreneurial Ability, Initiative and Leadership Skills.
The way to fail in 4th and 1st seasons is to try to live in the rules of the previous seasons. The way to succeed is to engage the new reality.
As teens, you may need to help your parents and grandparents with this!
Those who will thrive in times of recession, depression, slow growth economies, even war and other major crises, are the ones who focus on home, community and entrepreneurship.
Again, the problem is that older generations define success the old way: a good major in college, good career, fun entertainment almost every evening, a really nice house, several new cars, and good retirement. They also want the same for their kids. This is a 3rd Season view. It will be available again, if the cycles hold true (as they have for over 3,000 years) somewhere around the years 2070-2080.
The generation before them saw success as: public schools as central to the community, a stable job at one company for life, husbands supporting families with wife staying home, savings in the bank and home ownership as the best investments. This is a 2nd Season view, and it will come back again somewhere around the years 2045-2055.
As for real life from now through the 2020s, 2030s, 2040s and maybe into the 2050s, it is time to get real! Success now and for most of your life will be determined according to the rules of 4th and 1st Seasons. The new economy is here, and the new realities with it. These new realities need all your idealism and enthusiasm, but they can’t and won’t be like the past, which too many adults are just pining for. Those days are gone.
Another key of leadership is to focus on what’s next, not on the past or even the challenges of now. Overcoming current challenges is important, but the focus should be on what’s ahead. Those who thrive from now to 2029 will be the ones who focus on and embrace the rules of the coming 1st Season ahead!
Be one of those who thrives, and help others do the same!
Because of the cycles and seasons, some of the most important classics to study as a teen are those written during 4th and 1st Seasons, or by authors who lived through them. One of the best of these, with a focus on family and entrepreneurship, is Our Home by C.E. Sargent.
Sargent lived through the 4th season of the Civil War period, and built his career and family in the 1st season which followed. His book is one of the Great 100 Teen Classics listed in chapter two.
Following are fourteen “rules” for financial success, family leadership and overall happiness in 4th and 1st seasons, as taught by C.E. Sargent. We have added a lot of commentary to these, geared specifically for our time. Still, all fourteen of these guidelines apply to any 4th and 1st season period in history. These are so much more helpful than many of the things suggested today for success by 2nd and 3rd season experts.
Fourteen Rules for Success Over the Next 50 Years
First, embrace the new. And the now. Forget 3rd season goals. They are gone, over, done, and it is time to move on. As a teen, you may not have gotten caught up in a lot of 3rd season planning, but if you did it is time to embrace something else.
Those who pine away for the old will not succeed, nor will those who wait around for the old days to come back. Forget the old measures and methods of success, and get excited about the new opportunities!
Second, spend evenings and Sundays with family. This principle is so simple, and yet so powerful.
People bond naturally in the evening, and in our modern world the best entertainment is family time.
So much in financial and career success in 4th and 1st seasons depends on family support and relationships, and close bonding is vital.
Such bonds also build a closer community around the family, and this is also needed for financial and social success in this season.
Where Shanon lives, (it is kind of a time warp) they still live this way for the most part. It has just begun breaking down over the past 5 years, (they are about 20 years behind the times) but for the most part, families there are very tight. You can always see them taking walks as family groups almost every night.
The community does a ton of things together: baseball, community festivals and parades, local fund-raisers and neighborhood parties etc. This community will do much better than others in the future as they already know each other very well and are comfortable with focusing heavily on the family and community. Tough times are easier for them because they already know how to work together.
Shanon remembers when he first moved there, it snowed about 3 feet in 2 days. Before city employees could begin the process of removing snow, family members had already dug out the widows and elderly of their families. It was inspiring to see how everyone just pitched in and helped.
Third, strengthen your self-culture. In 2nd and 3rd seasons, much of life is built around popular culture, fitting in, looking “right” to others. In contrast, in our time happiness is much more important than impressing anyone. Figure out what makes you happy, and live it!
Fourth, clearly articulate and write out your individual rules for life. Plan them. Live them. Leaders are needed, not conformists.
Your family, community and those around you need you to know who you are, what you stand for, and for you to truly stand for something.
Of course, true leadership and excellent rules include conformity to core morals and goodness. Decide what is most important to you, who you really are, and be it!
Fifth, instead of raising children, the focus of families will be on raising adults! This means that the teen years won’t be seen as times of all fun and games, but rather teens will be considered young adults who are needed to help the family succeed.
In addition to their education, they will help the family flourish by doing a lot more work than the last three generations of teens.
Also, the educational focus will be less on training accountants, attorneys or engineers and more on preparing youth to become good parents and wise citizens.
Indeed, in 4th and 1st seasons we need 18-year-olds who can go to war, lead communities, start businesses, etc.
Some might see this as a loss of youth, but that is just old seasons thinking. In truth, teens flourish in 4th and 1st seasons because they are given opportunities for leadership and responsibility.
Sixth, make Meaning a central focus of your learning, conversations and thinking. In 2nd and 3rd seasons the emphasis is often on prosperity and getting ahead. In current times the national emphasis shifts to things that really matter.
Tests, trials and struggles bring important lessons, and the opportunity to consider what is truly important and what isn’t. Look for meaning in everything, and you’ll often find it. Learn to be grateful, to see the “silver lining” in challenges, to learn from mistakes, and to get up whenever you fall down and just keep trying.
The 4th and 1st seasons are great times to turn to great classics and learn the best lessons of the past.
Seventh, spend a lot of time serving widows, orphans, grandparents, the elderly, the sick, and any who are down or struggling. These should be the focus of much family time.
In 2nd and 3rd seasons these are simply service projects, but in 4th and 1st seasons they become true community—much more than an after-work project once in a while. Make this one thing a priority in the 4th and 1st seasons, and you will find happiness and thrive in other ways too.
Boredom is a 2nd and 3rd seasons’ disease. Bored? Go serve. Make service the default. If you have nothing else to do, serve. By the way, doing something that seemingly blesses only you is doing something worthwhile.
But if you are just looking for entertainment all the time, start looking for things to do that help other people. Sometimes the best service (and most entertaining activity) is spontaneous service.
If there aren’t enough projects already organized by others, organize some yourself or with a group of friends. Don’t wait on this one—get started right away.
Eighth, make marriage the central focus of your life. Even as a teen, preparing to be a great wife or husband is a vital project. Note that the focus usually changes with the seasons:
2nd: Job over Parenthood
3rd: Parent over Spouse
In 4th and 1st seasons families grow stronger, and a large part of this is that spouses really need each other and turn to each other for help. This blesses all levels of family. Unfortunately, a shift to such times often starts with a lot of marriage struggles—unless people understand and apply these fourteen principles and other guidelines of good relationships.
Teens and other singles often do this focus on marriage better than married people, because they think in terms of romance, dates, etc. rather than children or career as top priority. In their search for a spouse, they put marriage first.
The key is to maintain this after marriage. This doesn’t decrease the value of parenting, but in fact increases it. Truly happy parents do the best parenting.
Ninth, get a true leadership education, what you might call an Impact Education. Consider the varying focus of education in different seasons:
2nd: Job Training
3rd: Career Training
4th: Impact Education
1st: Leadership Education
Leadership Education includes the skills of initiative plus ingenuity, tenacity, quality, creativity, persuasiveness, etc. Nothing teaches this as effectively as classics, mentors, simulations and the seven keys covered in earlier chapters. Indeed, Leadership Education was specifically designed to prepare people for success in challenging times.
Tenth, engage entrepreneurship. This is a must for almost everyone in 4th and 1st seasons. Even those with stable jobs, which are much fewer in these seasons, seldom have the opportunity for spouses to have a job too or to get extra money through overtime or extra jobs. Spouses or teens help support the family through entrepreneurship. The majority of people will have to be entrepreneurs to make a living.
Note that different generations have very different views about entrepreneurial ventures. Here is what being an entrepreneur means to most people in the different seasons:
2nd: “You can’t get a real job!”
3rd: “Build a business and sell it, retire young.”
4th: “Entrepreneur to survive, until the economy is better.”
1st: “Build a business, do it right, take it big!”
The key is to adopt the 1st season view, no matter when you are entrepreneuring. It is the only one that really works. In a 4th or 1st season, it is vital to adopt this mindset for your career whatever it is—even if you have a stable job (only employees with this view will keep the company stable).
In 4th and 1st seasons, entrepreneurship is the key to survival and also success. It requires all the skills and knowledge that naturally come from a good leadership education. The best place to start as a teen is the great reading list in chapter two of this book!
Eleventh, produce wealth. Seriously, there is no time to create and build wealth like 4th and 1st seasons (this is easiest in 3rd seasons, but much of the wealth created then is lost as quickly as it is gained; besides, the next 3rd season will likely come in about the year 2070).
It may seem strange to emphasize producing wealth in times of recession, depression, war and challenge, but that is exactly the best time.
This is not to say that you should put greed first, but rather that in such times a focus on entrepreneurial building is exactly what your family, the community, the society and the nation need most!
In 4th and 1st seasons, building businesses is among the most charitable and patriotic things you can do for the society.
People desperately need jobs and nations desperately need successful businesses.
More than anything, the world needs the leadership education that you can only gain by building something! The classics are a great start, but once you leave the classroom the best leadership education is found in building organizations and making them work!
This is called being a producer, not just a consumer, or dependant or victim. Author Dennis R. Deaton calls this having an “Ownership Spirit.” He writes in his book by that title: “When we think in owner terms, we live independent of circumstances. The ups and downs of the day don’t define who we are, our mood, demeanor, or commitment.
When something goes awry, owners can be disappointed and frustrated, but they don’t find someone to blame or resent, as Victims often do. Owners tend to focus their thinking on what to do—what options they have and what courses of action to pursue . . . . When people treat them rudely, owners seldom take offense.
They could, of course, but they see that as a waste of time and energy . . . . Owners understand that life is not easy, and they don’t expect it to be.”
In addition to this vital mindset, society needs rich people more than ever in 4th and 1st seasons, and people who are creating riches. Society needs you to be a producer, or owner.
Of course, the popularity for creating wealth is different in each of the seasons:
2nd: Savings and security for the family (from a steady job and bank savings accounts)
3rd: Money to retire young and relax (from entrepreneurship and/or investing)
4th: To help the needy, by giving them jobs and where needed charity (by building and growing a successful business)
1st: To build society, including the needed new institutions of strength after the crisis season (by building and growing businesses)
Twelfth, develop your creativity and inventiveness. This is needed so much in 4th and 1st seasons! Creativity is needed to find ways to be more frugal, individually and as a society; and also in producing things, money, jobs, wealth, philanthropy, etc.
Creativity and inventiveness are needed in finding ways to give yourself and others needs, wants and luxuries. They are necessary to fix society’s problems and take advantage of its opportunities.
Times of challenge are always the seasons of greatest opportunity, and success in such opportunities depends on your creativity! Leadership education in the classics and using the seven keys is the best way to start a truly creative education, and add to this with your own initiative and the guidance of parents and mentors.
Thirteenth, dig deep and find your inner resiliency. Whatever happens, success goes to those who keep trying and never give up.
After one great crisis season, Winston Churchill taught that the key to success is never to give up.
He also said that courage is the most important virtue because without it the others aren’t used.
Part of resiliency is to stay optimistic and enthusiastic in the face of whatever happens.
Life is hard, and in 4th and 1st seasons it is harder than in the others, but that just means that we have more opportunity than ever to really help improve the world. Very little progress or positive change occurs during 2nd or 3rd seasons, but in times like now much can change very quickly. Of course, the change depends on leadership, which is why leadership education in your youth is so vital.
Fourteenth, and finally, grow your ambition! You were born to do great things, so don’t settle for anything less. Ambition sometimes gets a bad name, but that is mainly because it means different things in each of the seasons:
2nd: Personal Status
3rd: Personal wealth
4th: Making Sure the Right Side Wins
1st: Making Sure the Right Changes Happen
As you can see, even if great ambition were negative during 2nd or 3rd seasons, it is all-positive during 4th and 1st seasons. For example, the American founding ambition to make sure the Colonies beat Britain is a great thing. Likewise the Northern ambition to end slavery in the Civil War and the Allied ambition to stop Hitler in World War II. Thank goodness for such high ambitions!
But the truly great ambitions came after these conflicts, in 1st seasons where the people set out to improve the world. Some of the changes were good, while others were bad. The difference was the quality of the leadership, based on the education of that generation’s leaders while they were in their youth.
In your generation, the world cries out for great change. So much needs to be fixed. So many things in this world today need to be improved.
Your generation can do it. But like past generations, it will depend on the leadership of the next fifty years. And that will depend in large part on the education you and your generational peers get in the next five to ten years. Will you follow old thinking of 3rd seasons and focus on career training? Will you accept mediocrity? If so, the future of freedom and prosperity will not be an improvement on what you inherited.
If not, you need to learn right now, in your youth, what the new 4th and 1st seasons rules are and become a master at them. Lead out in the new way of dealing with and solving challenges and crises and improving the world.
What will be your mark on the world—improvement or further decline? It depends in large part on your teen and college education. It is up to you, and to others your age.
It is time for a generation to change the world, to drastically improve it. We believe it will be your generation that does it. Are we right?
We started this book by promising to tell it to you straight, to tell you the real deal. We have done that.
The future depends on you.
It doesn’t get deeper or more real than that.
We also started with the thought that when God or the Universe wants to change the world, he sends a baby—perfectly timed to grow, learn, prepare and then take action at the right time.
But there are times when one baby won’t suffice, when the challenges facing the world are just too great, and so instead of a great reformer or a few key thinkers what is needed is a whole generation of leaders.
This happened in the Sixth Century B.C., and in the first decade of the Common Era, then again in the American Founding generation. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and so many more were part of this generation. In their youth, they worked to learn and get a great leadership education. Then, when the world needed them, they were ready.
It is happening again today. You are such a generation. But will you succeed? That remains to be seen. One thing is certain: to do so, you will need a superb, leadership, Thomas Jefferson-like, education. In five years, you will either have such an education . . . or not. The ones who do will lead. Our challenge to you is to be one of them!
It is who you were born to be, it is the real, genuine you. The world needs you.
Bringing You Up To Speed
If you will recall from part one, 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, we have clearly entered the Bondage phase. Just consider the events of the past 12 months:
- NDAA 2012
- Congress passed Obamacare and it was sanctioned by the Supreme Court
- The national plunge over the Fiscal Cliff on January 1, 2013
- The likely lifting of the “Debt Ceiling”– spearheaded by the president
- 23 Executive Orders restricting the Second Amendment out of existence (in addition to hundreds of others the president has issues during his first term in office)
If this doesn’t spell BONDAGE then nothing does.
So now that we are in bondage, how do we get out? The normal pattern of this cycle indicates that you don’t –you stay in bondage for about 200 years, then an event of significant magnitude catapults you out of bondage momentarily. While you stand bewildered and blinking at the sun like prisoners from Plato’s allegoric cave, the power you just overthrew regroups and brings you back into bondage as you quickly circumnavigate the cycle to your original position.
However, all is not lost. There have been a couple of times in history that men did not follow their worst nature and did secure a position in Abundance rather than Bondage and changed the course of history. The 200 years of abundance of the Roman Republic is one of those times, and the 200 years following the creation the United States is another.
America, thanks to founders, has been very slow in working its way back into Bondage, but make no mistake, we are here. And now that we are in bondage, we do not know how long we will be here and that can be scary. But we do know that the only way out of Bondage, the way both the Romans and the people of the American founding era got out was by becoming a people of high humility, high integrity, high literacy, and devotion to Deity—developing Spiritual Faith.
The natural consequence of a people in Bondage developing Spiritual Faith is the advancement of Courage.
Acting on that Courage leads to Liberty. Liberty with such a people always leads to great Abundance.
This is precisely what the pre-American founding era did. They left the religious and tyrannical bondage of England and Europe and removed themselves to the wilderness of America. That removal and subsequent hardship moved them to rely on God and develop Spiritual Faith, Courage, and Liberty in a way they may not have otherwise.
So our path is clear—to get out of bondage we must as a society develop spiritual faith or become a people of high humility, high integrity, high literacy, and devotion to Deity. How do we do that? Let’s tackle these one at a time.
Humility and Integrity
The annals of history are full of accounts of people suffering and turning to Deity for relief. The old adage, “there are no atheists in foxholes” is alive and well (a foxhole is a hole or indentation that a solider creates to avoid being shot on the battle field). Humility is not a state of abject poverty or groveling. It is a deep and abiding acknowledgement that we are dependent on a Higher Power. While it may take sometime for the general populace to realize the predicament we are in, we as individuals and families, even communities can become humble, turn to Providence now and aknowledge His ever-protective embrace.
Integrity is a choice. We do not have to go along with the prevailing culture of “take care of me first” or “it’s not personal, it’s just business” or “if they are dumb enough to fall for trickery, they deserve it.” Integrity is a decision to be honest 24/7. This does not mean gullible or foolhardy, it just means being honest and fair, in all situations.
In a phrase – live your religion. I don’t care what that is, just stand for something, declare your principles and live by them so that all can see your good works and praise God.
Literacy is always the beginning of liberty. From the 1845 Narrative of Fredrick Douglass we get the essence of the value of literacy. Falling into a rage of anger over the discovery that his young wife was teaching 10-year old Fredrick to read, Douglass’s master declared, (Douglass uses his master’s own words):
If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell (Old English – 45 inches). A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as his is told. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.
These words [said Fredrick] sank deep into my heart, stirring up sentiments within, that lay slumbering, and called into existence an entirely new train of thought. . . I now understood what had been to me a most perplexing difficulty—to wit, the white man’s power to enslave the black man.
Masters and slaves come in all colors, sizes, and shapes.
This leads us to an in-depth look at literacy and the liberal arts.
In ancient Greece and Rome, the population experienced a natural segregation into two distinct classes; the slave class (those who were slaves or plebes who lived at the level of slaves limited by a slavish mentality) and a class we call, the Liber.
Liber is the Latin word used today for botanical purposes meaning the inner layers of tree bark.
In times gone by, when men had command of written language they would record their histories, laws, businesses transactions etc. on clay tablets, animal hides, papyrus, or even thin layers of tree bark. The creation of these records required a person to possess the skills of thinking, reading, writing, engaging in commerce, contract, and politics. We associate the word Liber with those freemen who possessed and used these skills.
There were varying levels and types of slaves and peasants, and likewise different types of Liber: from citizens to merchants to the aristocracy and royalty. But the fundamental difference between slaves and Liber was the exercise of freedom. It was not enough to be born into a free class, if a person did not exercise that freedom (through daily use of the above mentioned skills) there were plenty of political and ecclesiastical powers ready to snatch it up and exercise it for the free citizen, thus transforming him into a slave.
What is Liberty?
Liber is the root word for liberty. It is also the root word for libro (book) and library. Liberty is the state of being Liber. There is a distinct and deep relationship between the holding and use of a library (especially a private library) and the state of liberty. Liberty is not just the absence of bondage, but the fitness of an individual to exercise the liber skills to be a free citizen (we distinguish freedom from liberty thusly, freedom is individual and liberty is a social or collective action).
The concept of liberty is all but lost in America today. Being a society in bondage, the ability to see our way without government involvement and oversight has vanished. The conception of having a voice and standing completely on our own is nothing but a shadow, eradicated from the modern role of citizenship.
Liber is also the root word for the phrase “Liberal Arts”, such as in liberal arts colleges; the arts in a Bachelor of Arts or B.A. degree comes from the term “liberal arts.”
The term Liberal Arts or better known as Artes Liberales during the middle ages (10th through 14th centuries) does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time.
They are called liberal, because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes.
Artes illiberales or illiberal arts where important but almost exclusively acquired via internships and residencies for good reason as modern employers are finding, regardless the degree a new hire possesses, they still need to engage in OJT to be worth their salt.
The aim of the classical liberal arts was to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term, i.e. the combination of philosophy and theology known as scholasticism. This was a preparation for one’s philosophy of life, one’s moral perspective, a way to see the world and interact in it.
There are seven original or classical liberal arts arranged in two groups, the first comprising grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, or in other words, the sciences of language, of oratory, and of logic, better known as the artes sermocinales, or language studies; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, known as the artes reales.
The classical liberal arts possess a special interest for historians, for in spite of modern pedagogical practices, here stands a two thousand year-old system, still active today, that challenges modern notions of education, surpassing them in both duration and in local ramifications.
But it is equally instructive for the philosopher because thinkers like Pythagoras, Plato, and St. Augustine shared in the framing of the system, and because in general much thought and pedagogical wisdom have been embodied in it.
Further, it is of importance to the practical teacher, because among the comments of so many schoolmen on this subject may be found many suggestions that are of the greatest utility. Aside from the ancients, there are authors such as Locke, Shaftsbury, and Turnbull who have commented greatly on these arts or skills for the development not of a career but of one’s personal moral philosophy, which of course dictates so much of what we do in the rest of our lives.
In our day, there are still two types of people—the Liber or liberal arts educated and the not Liber or not liberal arts educated. A liberal arts education does not guarantee moral judgement or moral action, that must still be instilled from youth. But in general, those who are Liber (moral or not) are those who lead society because they know how to think. Those without this type of education, have no choice but to follow.
Other Liberal Arts
In addition to the seven arts cataloged above, over time other great thinkers and teachers have added to the list. Here are Aristotle’s considerations for a list of arts required to check the abuse of power and maintain the liberty of society:
- Fine Arts
- Political Economy
To be Liber, according to Aristotle was to have a serious depth of knowledge in all of these areas, not just one or two. Today we have B.A. or B.S. degrees that focus in just one area, but originally the B.A. degree meant to have depth in all the arts of freedom. We cover this in depth in another paper – The State of American Education.
Mortimer Adler the assistant editor of the Great Books of the Western World, a collection published by Britannica and the University of Chicago in 1952, listed the following as skills required to maintain freedom:
Adler stated that, “Training in the liberal arts is indispensable to making free men out of children. It prepares them for the uses of freedom — the proper employment of free time and the exercise of political power. It prepares them for leisure and for citizenship.
Robert Hutchins, Adler’s partner in the project and president of the University of Chicago at the time declared, “I am afraid we shall have to admit that the educational process in America is either a rather pleasant way of passing the time until we are ready to go to work, or a way of getting ready for some occupation, or a combination of the two. What is missing is education to be human beings, education to make the most of our human powers, education for our responsibilities as members of a democratic society, education for freedom.”
Hutchinson continues, “This is what liberal education is. It is the education that prepares us to be free men. You have to have this education . . . if you are going to be an effective citizen of a democracy; for citizenship requires that you understand the world in which you live and that you do not leave your duties to be performed by others, living vicariously and vacuously on their virtue and intelligence. To be free you have to be educated for freedom. This means that you have to think; for the free man is one who thinks for himself.”
More Liberal Arts
In the late 1990s a number of prominent schools, Harvard and Princeton to mention two, published lists of skills they projected would be necessary to succeed in the 21st century. Some of these fit our criteria for maintaining liberty and so we include them here:
Harvard School of Law
- The ability to define problems without a guide
- The ability to ask hard questions that challenge prevailing assumptions
- The ability to quickly assimilate needed data from masses of irrelevant information
- The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one
- The ability to discuss ideas with an eye to application
- The ability to think inductively, deductively, and dialectically*
Princeton Undergraduate Program
- The ability to think, speak, and write clearly
- The ability to reason, critically and systematically
- The ability to think independently
- The ability to take the initiative
- The ability to judge what it means to understand something thoroughly
- The ability to see connections among disciplines, ideas, and cultures
In the year 2000, Oliver DeMille added his thoughts to those already mentioned and suggested 4 additional skills for the mix:
- The ability to understand human nature and lead accordingly
- The ability to discern truth from error regardless the source or the delivery
- The ability to discern true from right
- The ability and discipline to do right
The age we are currently experiencing is not only a bondage period of the Tytler cycle but it is also an alignment of the Tytler Cycle and the Saeculum or the Century Cycle. This only happens once in every 8 generations or turnings/seasons of the Saeculum. What we do during this “fourth turning” which means the next couple of decades, will have a dramatic impact on the next two centuries of American existence.
Next part in this series – The Liberal Arts During Bondage: Part Three; The Fourth Turning: The Opportunity of The Century
*Inductive reasoning or thinking is the method of processing information from detailed facts or observations to broader general principles or theories. Deductively reasoning is basically the opposite process, beginning the process from generalities and distilling them down to specifics. Inductive reasoning is sometimes called “bottom-up” thinking and deductive reasoning is called “top-down” thinking. While both methods of reasoning are used in science and elsewhere, induction is used to follow a hunch or dream up a theory, which may of may not be true, while deduction is used to meticulously prove out theories or ideas created by induction.
When thinking dialectically, the thinker will take two or more opposing points of view and pit them against each other, developing each by providing support, raising objections, countering those objections, raising further objections, and so on. Think of opposing attorneys in a court case or debaters.
Dialectical thinking or discussion can be conducted so as to “win” by defeating the positions one disagrees with — using critical insight to support one’s own view and pointing out flaws in other views or, if being fair and honest, by conceding points that don’t stand up to critique, trying to integrate or incorporate strong points found in other views, and using critical insight to develop a fuller and more accurate view.
And so it begins…
Of the almost 127 million voters, a majority preferred a governing system that favors high taxes, a saturated welfare system, forced health care, and an abundance of government dependent workers.
Apparently we have learned nothing from the real-time occurrences in Europe, most recently in Greece.
As Oliver DeMille put it in a recent article, “Make no mistake. Whatever the pundits say, we fell off the fiscal cliff on January 1, 2013.
‘Until House Republicans stand up and simply say “no” to the Obama super-spending agenda, the Spendocracy will grow and a depression is looming.
Indeed, conspiracy theories aside, those who want government to grow are actually benefited by recession and depression because they gain even more demand for increased government involvement.”
There is no turning back; in fact, according to a recent Forbes article titled “Do You Live In A Death Spiral State?”,this government growth and spending frenzy is not just a national government phenomena; the state and municipal governments are joining the party as fast as they can.
Face it, with more than 20% of the states already upside down, this is our new reality; and the sooner we warm up to it and adjust our thinking, the better for us in the long term.
Quoting from the Forbes article:
Don’t buy a house in a state where private sector workers are outnumbered by folks dependent on government.
Thinking about buying a house? Or a municipal bond? Be careful where you put your capital. Don’t put it in a state at high risk of a fiscal tailspin.
They can look forward to a rising tax burden, deteriorating state finances and an exodus of employers.
If your career takes you to Los Angeles or Chicago, don’t buy a house. Rent.
If you have money in municipal bonds, clean up the portfolio.
Sell holdings from the sick states and reinvest where you’re less likely to get clipped. Nebraska and Virginia are unlikely to give their bondholders a Greek haircut.
California and New York are comparatively risky.
Two factors determine whether a state makes this elite list of fiscal hellholes. The first is whether it has more takers than makers. A taker is someone who draws money from the government, as an employee, pensioner or welfare recipient. A maker is someone gainfully employed in the private sector.
Let us give those takers the benefit of our sympathy and assume that every single one of them is a deserving soul. This person is either genuinely needy or a dedicated public servant or the recipient of a well-earned pension.
Taxes get too high.
Prosperous citizens decamp. Employers decamp. That just makes matters worse for the taxpayers left behind.
Let’s say you are a software entrepreneur with 100 on your payroll.
If you stay in San Francisco, your crew will support 139 takers. In Texas, they would support only 82. Austin looks very attractive.
Ranked on the taker/maker ratio, our 11 death spiral states range from New Mexico, with 1.53 takers for every maker, down to Ohio, with a 1to1 ratio.
The taker count is the number of state and local government workers plus the number of people on Medicaid plus 1 for each $100,000 of unfunded pension liabilities.
(Sources: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and a study of state worker pensions done in 2009 by two academics, Joshua Rauh and Rovert NovyMarx. Professor Rauh estimates that the shortage in pension funding is on average a third higher today.)
Conning’s analysis focuses more on dollars than body counts. Its formula downgrades states for large debts, an uncompetitive business climate, weak home prices and bad trends in employment.
Conning rates North Dakota the safest state to lend money to, Connecticut the most hazardous. A state qualifies for the Forbes death spiral list if its taker/maker ratio exceeds 1.0 and it resides in the bottom half of Conning’s ranking.
A final word.
Ideas have consequences, and the consequences of the ideas that are shaping our fast approaching fiscal reality could not be any more obvious. Sure, go ahead, hope and pray that a miracle will occur or that government will come to its senses and stop all new spending and cut deeply into current spending (yes, that means real budget cuts such as reducing or stopping all non-vital services, no new construction projects, and pay raises).
And while you are waiting for that miracle or change of heart, you might consider entertaining the same steps that we have been suggesting for at least two years:
1. Read at least one of the depression books listed below within the next 30 days (no really, just do it).
2. Re-evaluate your current economic and family situation and make hard choices to re-position with a better strategy (down-size, more family time, grow a family or community garden, food storage instead of family vacation).
3. Get as liquid as possible and out of debt as soon as possible. Fire sale opportunities will be on the rise over the next 5-10 years.
4. Start a mini-factory (develop multiple streams of income – home-based business, a cottage industry, enhanced education to shift to more flexible income, parallel incomes, CSA, Network marketing business, etc.) and be as creative and optimistic as possible. These sentiments will soon be in short supply.
5. Create a culture and community of service
6. Create a family legacy. This means lay the groundwork for a multi-generational organization that unifies and protects your family — come what may (true happiness can only be found in family).
Take a look at this list of books to help adjust your thinking and position yourself to succeed during economic hard times at a level we have not experienced in our lifetime:
The Great Depression Ahead – Dent
America’s Great Depression – Rothbard
The Fourth Turning – Howe and Straus
The Third Wave – Toffler
5,000 Year Leap – Skousen
The Cube and the Cathedral – Wiegel
The Servile State – Belloc
A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens – DeMille/Brooks
P.S. Please be sure to do your own research. I am ok if you don’t believe me, but for heaven’s sake, do not believe those who are saying “don’t worry, things are just fine.” Get your own sense of truth by doing your own investigation.
[This series of posts are a continuation of the blog posted on January 1, 2013 at Shanonbrooks.com entitled Job Training Versus Character Education]
What does bondage look like?
One attribute of human nature is that we tend to acclimate over time to whatever condition we are experiencing. We get used to the hot or cold weather. We make the best of what foods are available. We become accustomed to the system of governance in which we are raised.
Because of this acclimation–of getting used to even bad situations if we are exposed to them long enough–we have a hard time distinguishing between liberty and bondage.This only changes as education and character changes. Perhaps the better question is, “what does liberty look like?”
To help identify what bondage is, let’s identify a few conditions of current American life that historically can be considered bondage (meaning that they are not typically in existence during liberty):
- Automobile laws (seat belts, booster seats, no talking on cell phones, speeding citation system, etc.)
- The Food Modernization Act of 2009 (which if enacted fully, literally controls all food distribution and consumption down to the tomatoes you grow in your backyard)
- Business licensing (why do I have to pay to register my business with a municipality? Why do I have to register at all?
- Building inspection process (why should the government require me to pay them so I can build a house on my property? Why should the government care how I build my house at all? If I build a house unsafely and the government inspector misses it, which results in injury to human beings, can I sue the municipality? Why not just let the builder bear that burden?)
A citizenry in a period of liberty would never allow any of these constraints on society. That is not to say that these measures aren’t smart and don’t save lives, but liberty dictates that citizens have the right to be unsafe and not smart. Let the culture move the people to better habits, not the government.
A bondage-citizenry, less trusting of themselves and others, will at the very least, point out that these constraints are only slight infringements on personal rights, and in the worst case scenario they will embrace them fully and tattle to the government regarding their neighbor’s violations.
As we are currently in bondage, seeing things from the perspective of liberty is nearly impossible; and only prolonged suffering under bondage and a change in education and personal character will open our eyes to the truth of our situation.
The only way out of bondage is to develop a people of high humility, high integrity, high literacy, and devotion to Deity—in a phrase, sound moral character (moral here means to do right even when you have the freedom to do otherwise)—which creates a people steeped in Spiritual Faith.
The natural consequence of a people in bondage developing Spiritual Faith is the advancement of Courage.
Acting on that Courage leads to Liberty. Liberty with such a people always leads to great Abundance.
This is precisely what the pre-American founding era did. They left the religious and tyrannical bondage of England and Europe and removed themselves to the wilderness of America.
That removal and subsequent hardship moved them to rely on God and develop Spiritual Faith, Courage, and Liberty in a way they may not have otherwise.
What does liberty look like?
If you will take a close look at America from 1776 to 1865, you will see what liberty looks like. Imagine a life free from:
- Taxation as we know it today (remember, the 16th amendment was passed with the promise of no taxation beyond 3% of income)
- Licensure as we know it today (if you wanted to run a business, the market would determine in you were worthy and competent)
- Dependence on government (instead of nearly 50% of the population either employed by the government or on some welfare program, 85% of Americans lived on semi- or completely self-providing farms and ranches)
- Government/Business complex as we know it (sure, men will be men, but outside of big business, the average American lived as he chose with little or no interference or oversight from government)
That’s what liberty looks like.
The American fight for liberty and subsequent Abundance began in 1776 and died at the end of the American Civil War (1865), the beginning of the national government occupation of the south or what is known as Reconstruction.
To understand this in proper context, we have to first look at the construct of the federal government.
The form and substance of the government established by the American founders was called Federalism.
Contrary to common belief, the founders did not create the federal government and then model the states after it, quite the opposite.
The stars in this graphic represent the 13 original states that had existed as independent colonies or states in and of themselves for 150 years before the federal or general government came into being.
They had no desire to turn over their sovereignty to others, and outside of the powers listed in Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution—they didn’t.
Notice the direction of the power flow indicated by the arrows. Who is the original source of power and authority here? Yes, the states.
The unofficial (the U.S. Constitution directs the states to ensure education in each respective state, not the general government) and non-federally funded American education system of the 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, and the first part of the 20th century, taught federalism as the proper form of government.
The Fed was given twenty specific powers–they are strictly identified in Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution, they are clear as a bell- a sixth grader can see them, it is that simple. The Fed was given those powers and everything else remained with the states or the people themselves.
Amendments nine and ten of the U.S. Constitution are very clear on this point. This understanding of governing principles was taught for 350 years.
Then from the 1860′s through the early 1900′s a new version of civics was promoted, experimented with, and then universally taught, literally replacing the old understanding within a few decades.
With the old understanding of governing principles gone, it was a simple matter of a generation or two of the new philosophy before contradictory laws could be passed to change our system from Federal to National. Now we live under a very different form of government from the one the founders gave us.
Consider state budgets before and after this change.
From 1789 to the late 1800s the federal government provided little or no funding to the states to supplement their budgets.
Today in my state of Utah, almost half of our $13 billion budget comes directly from the U.S. government. Utah is literally dependent on the national government for its very existence.
These graphics shows the states having the power and delegating some of their powers to the Federal government and then the national government holding all the power and delegating a little to the states. You can see the difference can’t you?
These are two drastically different forms of government. One is called Federalism. The other is called Nationalism. The principles of Federalism were taught to and lived by our ancestors from 1607 until about the 1930’s (350 years). Nationalism has been taught for only the last 80 years.
Lincoln is attributed with saying: “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation, will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
Reconstruction (national governmental occupation of the south) was the beginning of the end of Liberty (and eventually Abundance) for the American people. At this juncture, it is important to separate the Civil War from the policies of Reconstruction.
From 1863 to 1869, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson (who became president following Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, only 5 days from the end of hostilities) took a moderate position designed to bring the South back to normal as soon as possible.
It was the Radical Republicans who used Congress to block the moderate approach and prolonged the terrible aftermath.
So it is clear that the idea of secession was settled with the northern victory of the war, but Reconstruction was a whole new phase.
Remember what the issue of the war really was; state self-determination. This actually has a long history going as far back as 1800.
The southern agrarian states believed (based on nearly 200 years of colonial history) that they had a right to live their lives as they chose. The northern industrial states (who controlled Congress) agreed, as long as the south would supply them with cheap cotton.
The south (who controlled the Supreme Court) were rankled at this and either had the court to back them up or simply ignored congressional legislation, a process that came to be known as Nullification. By the time of the Civil War, this nullification dance had been going on for over 60 years.
Many in the halls of Congress (now moving quickly away from a Federal philosophy to a National philosophy) used this victory and a superior status to punish the south for a half a century of Nullification.
Compared to what the American founders established in 1789, we have been living under a tyrannical government for the last century. What an absurd statement, you might say—but remember, never having lived under the original system and being taught that what we have currently is what the founders created, why would we question?
The next part in this series is: The Liberal Arts During Bondage; Part Two: ”How Do the Liberal Arts Help Us During Bondage?”
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.