I was one of the volunteer judges for the oral presentations of a high school’s annual senior projects. What I discovered was alarming! These students were not being taught how to think; they were concrete-bound mentalities. They thought about things, about concretes; they did not readily think on the conceptual level.
Let me briefly explain what I mean. Humans possess a conceptual consciousness which enables us to think as rational beings. With the exception of proper names, every word in the English language is a concept. One of the ways the great philosophers in history are judged is by their theory of concepts. It is that important. We need to be “fluent” in our use of concepts in order to think well. We need to grasp that the word “table” represents all tables that exist, that have ever existed, and that will ever exist. This is extremely efficient. One concept, signified by a word, represents an unlimited number of specific, actual, concrete objects. It is through the use of concepts that our knowledge can be integrated into a complete whole and expanded tremendously.
If there is a new piece of information that does not fit harmoniously into the total sum of our knowledge, then something is wrong. This is called a contradiction. Either the new piece of information is wrong and therefore is not knowledge, or the total sum of our knowledge is not knowledge. This is one way that we can discover and correct our errors. By integrating our knowledge through the use of concepts, we increase the span and grasp of our mind. The faculty of reason multiplies the power of our mind almost without limit.
There is a logical necessity to the structure of human knowledge. This hierarchy begins with a base level that acts as a foundation. Another level is built on that foundation. The combination of the first two levels then becomes the base for an additional level, and so forth. Math is a simple example. One first needs to learn how to count. Then, on the basis of your knowledge of counting, you can learn addition and subtraction. Then, multiplication and division. Then, algebra. When math is learned in this order, there is no limit to one’s capabilities. By applying these principles and concepts you will be able to solve an endless array of problems.
But, if a teacher teaches you these elements of math out of their hierarchical order, chaos will reign. Because there is no logic to the “learning”, the only thing the student can do is memorize and repeat what he has memorized. Memorizing a series of unrelated facts is not real knowledge because the “facts” cannot be integrated nor validated by a reasoning mind. There will be no understanding. Integration is all about relating different facts by seeing that the same principle underlies them all. Today instead, these unrelated facts must simply be accepted from the teacher as true. Not only can the student not question the “fact from an authority”, he has no method by which he can verify the “fact” to himself or to anyone else. If I told you that 2 times 3 is seven, you could show me by counting and addition that I am wrong. But, if you do not know how to count or add, you cannot prove anything. The result is a stunted mind who is readily ruled by a dictator because he has been conditioned and indoctrinated (“educated”) to accept “facts” from an authority. He has no ability to reason for himself and to show or demonstrate that the dictator is wrong.
Have you heard of the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge? At least 1.7 million people, nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population, died between 1975 and 1979 from execution, disease, starvation, and overwork. They were the educated and professional people who were eliminated in accordance with Pol Pot’s wishes. Why? Because educated and professional people are more likely to be able to think. They are more likely to be able to reason critically and independently. Thus, they are more likely to point out an error in the dictator’s speech or to criticize his policies. The greatest threat to any dictator is an independent and reasoning mind. Even Hitler had all of the unapproved books in Germany burned. Why do you think he did that?
I glanced through a 3rd grade math textbook about 16 years ago. There was a simple enough math problem, and the book showed four different ways of solving it. There was the Egyptian method, the matrix method, and two others–I’ve forgotten their names. I couldn’t believe it! Methodology of thinking is an appropriate subject for upper level college or graduate courses, but not for the 3rd grade! This is an example of “teaching” things out of their hierarchical order. Just teach the kid how to add and multiply! Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic (the 3 R’s) are all he needs at this stage of his education–unless he is being indoctrinated for some purpose. What is wrong with education in this country? But, the Dept of Education is achieving exactly what it wants! What it wants is to indoctrinate kids to prepare them to be docile subjects in a collectivist (socialist-fascist) police state. We have been on that road for over 100 years. Objectivists know this because they can see that underlying philosophy leads to collectivism. The “powers that be” want all of us to be worker bees (slaves) in the collectivist bee hive.
This is why it is so important for kids, and for all Americans, to learn why America was truly great. They need to learn that the United States, in its original founding principles, was the only moral country in history because it was founded on the principle of individual rights. When the government and society respects rights, the result is freedom. A nation’s prosperity is proportional to its freedom. This is why the US became the wealthiest nation is history. This is why she was a beacon for immigrants who wanted to create a better life for themselves and their families. Freedom meant that there were no external limits to their achievements and that what they earned was theirs. This is the crucial right to private property. You cannot pursue your happiness without your right to private property. Rights and freedom are the source of American exceptionalism! To make America great again, all we need is our freedom!
America was founded on a politics of individualism. Our Founders recognized that we had inalienable rights and that among them were the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The opposite politics of collectivism can be compared to a honey bee hive. Worker bees have a moral duty to sacrifice their lives for their hive; they do not have rights. This is an appropriate social and political organization for honey bees, but not for humans. Humans are not insects; we possess a reasoning mind. The appropriate social and political organization for us is one of rights and freedom. This is the environment in which we can best produce, prosper, and pursue our happiness.
We have been losing our rights because we do not know or appreciate what rights are. We need to learn fast because time is short. It will not be long before we find ourselves in a collectivist police state and past the point of no return. The only long term remedy is for us to understand what rights are, and are not. There can be no such thing as a right to violate the rights of another. If one man is forced to provide anything for another (job, house, welfare check, food, medical care, education, subsidies, “free” anything), to that extent that first man is a slave. A slave is one who does not own what he produces. He cannot pursue his happiness because he does not own property. When the government redistributes wealth, it is a violation of property rights. Taking what you have earned is theft. Whether that theft is committed by the local criminal, the mafia, or the government, theft is theft. It is immoral to rob Peter in order to give to Paul.
Political correctness is an attack on many rights which are essential to a free society. One example is free speech. If you say anything negative about Islam, then you are an Islamophobe. If you say anything bad about a person who is a different race than you, then you are a racist–unless you’re black! If a man says anything bad about a woman, then he is a misogynist. If you say anything bad about anyone or anything, then you are a hater. If any hate crime has substance to it, then it was already a crime before “hate crimes” were invented. It is a redundant category. The point is that we must be able to think, independently and critically. Are you so indoctrinated that you accept and repeat anything the media tells you? We must all consciously avoid that trap and think for ourselves. To be worthy of being a rational being, we must be a thinking being!
Education: The Left’s Long Game of Social Change
The Role of Education in America-Phobia