How Modern Education Enabled the 2008 Financial Crisis – part 1

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the-big-short-christian-bale[1]
Eccentric genius, yet misunderstood and unappreciated, hedge-fund manager Michael Burry, played by Christian Bale

 

My favorite movie of 2015 was the Oscar nominated The Big Short. This docu-drama tells the story of how a handful of investors predicted the collapse of the mortgage bond market in 2007, which precipitated the 2008 global financial crisis. They knew the collapse was inevitable because they scrutinized the fundamental economic conditions that undergirded these financial products: bad mortgages that were likely to go into default. Whereas most everyone else in the financial industry glibly accepted that the mortgage market was too stable for the bubble to ever burst, these investors shorted the market by buying insurance (in the form of “credit default swaps”) on the mortgage-backed securities. If the securities collapsed, they would get paid enormous sums.

Throughout the movie, and also while reading the Michael Lewis book it is based upon, I thought about how a poorly educated public is both vulnerable to being exploited by fraud and to being unwitting instruments of fraud in the hands of the masterminds of macro-level fraudulent activity. I plan to process these thoughts in a series of posts that explore the links between financial fraud and the philosophy on which our educational system is based.

The movie begins with a quote from Mark Twain: “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.” In other words, ignorance is less of a problem for humans than is a false sense of certainty. The need for certainty, which we naively associate with knowledge, as the Twain quote suggests, motivates us to accept uncritically the assumptions of the crowd and the pronouncements of authoritative figures.

The assumptions of the crowd –

Investors, lenders, and borrowers accepted commonplace assumptions that drove the purchase of mortgage-backed financial products and the lending of risky loans.

  1. That the mortgage market is “rock solid”
    For most of U.S. History, the mortgage market was low-risk and predictable. You could count on most people paying their mortgages. Mortgage bonds were low-risk, low-yield. Also, the mortgage market had never collapsed on a national scale; there had only be local collapses. Thus, investors were willing to keep on purchasing mortgage-backed securities.
  2. That it is foolish to bet against housing
    For reasons just stated, people in the financial industry didn’t bet against housing, especially on a wide scale. It was too reliable to place large bets against. Never in history had millions of people stopped paying their mortgages, so how could it happen now? When Michael Burry, a successful but eccentric hedge fund manager, approached the big banks to ask them to create and sell him credit default swaps so that he could short the housing market, they were more than happy to oblige him. Some were so incredulous that they attempted to talk him out of it. They presumed he was the fool, and believed they would get rich off his reckless investments.
  3. That housing prices will continue to go up.
    Such an assumption is what drives a bubble. The reason why average Americans could keep borrowing, taking out home equity loans and multiple mortgages, was that lenders believed housing prices would continue rising, without end. It is also why banks kept buying mortgage-backed investments.
  4. That whatever good is happening now will continue to happen in the future.
    Known as the “hot-hand fallacy,” this is the assumption that allowed collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), which were the vehicle for multiplying the effect of bad loans throughout the economy, to infect the system. I see someone win a couple of bets, so I place a bet that they will win again. Others place bets on my bet, and others on their bets, and so on. Thus the odds of loosing the original bet is multiplied with each bet removed from the original, so if the original bet is lost, the losses are greatly magnified. This allowed, say a 50 million dollar loss, to turn into a 1 billion total loss for the whole system. So as people stopped paying their mortgages, it wasn’t just a loss to the original lender, or whoever held the mortgage, but an even bigger loss to those that bet the mortgages would be repaid (and more to those who bet on those bets). This is why the whole economy was threatened by defaults on mortgages.

The pronouncements of authoritative figures –

  1. Government officials
    One reason why investors had high confidence in the continued growth of the housing market is that authoritative government figures – like Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson – had been assuring everyone that the housing market was stable and propagating the belief that there was not a bubble (arguably, it was their policies that helped created the bubble). Michael Burry had to disregard these assurances and stand behind the claim that these men were wrong in order to defend his strategy to his investors, who thought he was crazy. One of them asks, “How can you know more than Greenspan and Paulson?” when doubting his ability to identify macro-economic trends. The financial system placed such faith in these figures that those that dared doubt their pronouncements were considered insane, even when these doubts were supported by clear evidence.
  2. Private ratings agencies –
    The rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard & Poors ) are responsible for rating debt-backed securities based on the borrower’s ability to repay debt. They played a major role in enabling the financial crisis by giving the highest AAA ratings to CDOs, even though collectively these included trillions of dollars of loans given to homebuyers with bad credit, thus deceiving investors into thinking that these products were safe. Even when default rates climbed, the value of CDOs kept going up (contrary to fundamental economic logic) because the rating agencies maintained the AAA ratings. The blind trust in the rating agencies of course led to an uncritical acceptance of these ratings, which justified poor investment decisions. As one business journalist put it, investors “weren’t so much buying a security” as they “were buying a triple-A rating.”

The acceptance of the assumptions of the crowd and the pronouncements of authoritative figures as truth, by borrowers, lenders, and investors, enabled a dysfunctional mortgage market that nearly destroyed the world economy. The tendencies of people to believe these things, and not to question them, is a direct result of the kind of education they received. In subsequent posts, I will show how modern education produces people – from the lowest students to the best students – who have these tendencies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Public Schools Teaching Children to Self-Govern? – part 2

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A person who self-governs does not need to be told by an authority what is good and be made to do it. Rather, he is able to judge independently what is good, and then act in accordance with it or in the pursuit of it.

The question before us is how well are our public schools doing in developing people who can self-govern. Based on my experience as a teacher, I am concerned that public schools are mostly producing people who have low capacity for self-government. I have seen numerous indicators of this in my career. My generalizations do not apply to every student; there are, of course, exceptions. What follows, however, is common, describing typical high school students I have worked with.

Students still depend on me to tell them what information is important –
Whether during a lecture or in reading a textbook, most of my students cannot on their own assign value to information they encounter, e.g. identifying a main idea, subordinate ideas, relevant facts that support these ideas. They often cannot decide for themselves what to write in their notes and what not to write, either from what they read or what they hear.

I am often asked, even about material I have written on the board, “Are we supposed to write this down?” I usually respond with: “If you do not know it, write it down; if you do know it, then you probably do not need to. It’s up to you.” In this, I am trying to encourage independence by making my students exercise their own judgment: do not do something just because I say so; do something because you judge it to be important. This kind of self-awareness, achieved through reflection, is essential to self-government: do I realize what am lacking in relationship to my goals? Can I act on my own to get what I am lacking?

Students only do work when they are made to, i.e. when there is an immediate consequence to not doing it.
This is habit I have noticed in both higher and lower level students. In higher level classes, I have often have the majority of the class show up unprepared when I have given a reading assignment (in response, I had to resort to pop reading quizzes that I could give any day), or not write in their journals if they thought it was not going to be graded that day. In most cases, students need to do more work, especially reading and writing, than any teacher can possibly grade (meaning actually evaluate, and not just check for completion) in order to master the goals for the course. But if they think it is not going to be graded (an immediate consequence), most students will not do it. Of course, there are consequences to not doing it: it will catch up with them eventually when their lack of knowledge is exposed on exams or other major assignments.

I usually do not grade students homework in my science classes because I know that many will just copy each other and because it is not a reliable indicator of understanding. Instead, I will give them quizzes based on their homework. I’ll go over the homework before the quiz, and if they understood the homework, they will do well on the quiz. Most of my students do not do the homework, because they know I won’t grade it (though sometimes I collect it unannounced!), but then most of the time they then fail the quiz.  These students, it seems, cannot even make the connection between not doing their homework the night before and failing a quiz that their homework was designed to prepare them for the next day.

This is the mentality of a small child, not of a child maturing to adulthood (I teach 16-18 year olds) A small child lives in the moment, unable to project the consequences of his actions beyond the moment. The purpose of discipline is to teach a child that there are negative consequences to wrong behavior. For my one year old, the discipline has to be immediate to be effective, because he lives in the present. For our older children, the discipline can come later because they can connect behavior to consequences over a longer period of time. The more they can project the consequences of possible actions, and make decisions that avoid negative ones, the less they need discipline from us.

A self-governing person, and therefore a free person, does not need immediate consequences, enforced by a governing authority, to force him to do what is right (and even what is in his best interests!). Instead, he can imagine the paths on which the choices before him will lead, and make choices that he foresees will likely lead to good outcomes. When teachers rely only a short-term, immediate punishments or rewards to get students to behave, especially older children on the verge of adulthood, they keep students dependent on others to govern them instead of helping them learn to self-govern.

I will continue describing these indicators of dependence in my next post.  Please share how you have seen what I describe here in high school students.

Are Public Schools Teaching Children to Self-Govern? – part 1

bored-students1
The ideals of freedom and self-government are closely intertwined. Self-government relates both to external and internal freedom, a distinction I made in my last post. One is not free in an external sense if one’s life is governed or regulated by another. At the same time, the ability to self-govern requires internal freedom: having control over one’s emotions, impulses, desires, rather than being controlled by them. Failure to govern oneself, due to a lack of internal freedom, will result in decreased external freedom.

I have four children, ages 1 through 10. They are not yet free in an external sense because my wife and I govern them (as do other adults outside the home, like teachers). Our goal as parents is to raise them to be independent of us, a process that extends at least throughout childhood. Thus, they should be progressing in their freedom as they mature. Our four year old cannot walk the dog or stay home by herself, but our ten year old can, because he can govern himself enough to not get lost in the neighborhood or get hit by a car, and to act safely at home or control his fears when we are away. As their ability to self-govern grows, we have to govern them less, and they become more free. One day, they will be out from under our authority, calling their own shots in their own homes, for their own children.

The ability to self-govern relies on what developmental psychologists call “executive functions.” Executive functions are those operations of the mind having to do with goal-setting, strategizing, planning, execution, organization, judgment, and self-control.  Studies have shown that the maturity of one’s executive functions is a significant predictor of future success (more than IQ, SAT scores, etc.) and that these functions are strikingly undeveloped in this current generation of young adults.

I have seen signs of underdeveloped executive functions in my students throughout my teaching career.

I once had a conversation with a basketball coach at my school about preparing our students for life as adults.  He observed that while his players are very faithful to do what he tells them to do in practice and during games, they usually do not exercise their own judgment to make good decisions on the basketball court independently of his orders.  I mentioned a similar observation of students in even my advanced courses:  that they are very responsible to do what I tell them to do, but generally will not work independently to do more than what I tell them to master the curriculum. Most will not do extra work – in the form of extra reading, additional practice on problems, etc. – beyond what it is assigned. And when they are not learning, many will not take it upon themselves to struggle to figure things out, but passively wait for me to intervene to help them. This even describes populations of “good students” – students that are mostly well-behaved, are motivated to do well in school, and have definite life goals for which completing their education are essential

On the other end of the spectrum are “bad students” that often misbehave, have low motivation, and are unsure of their life goals. These students often clash with authority the most, and are frequently subjected to punishment. One of the most common forms of punishment is in-school-suspension (ISS), where students sit in silence all day in an isolated classroom. They are supposed to work all day,  and teachers are responsible to send work to their students who are in ISS for that day.  I believe this duty is reasonable and so I am consistent to do it, but occasionally I forget. It is a common problem, actually, that teachers neglect to send work, and ISS supervisors lament about how students always use not getting work from a teacher as an excuse to do nothing.  I have found that even though students in ISS usually know what chapter we were in, what topic we were doing, or that we had a test coming soon, they do not exercise initiative to do anything productive, but just act like they can not do anything unless the teacher tells them exactly what to do.

I have seen this enough to discern a pattern:  the more rebellious students are (which is why they were in ISS in the first place), the more dependent they are, ironically, on authority.  On the one hand they have contempt for my authority, but on the other they are completely dependent on my authority – they cannot (or will not?) operate without me telling them exactly what to do. Without the abilities to self-govern, self-regulate/manage, set goals and make a plan to achieve them, etc., they need me to do those things for them in my class. Needing me and other adults to govern them, they are not free.

While some of my students self-govern more and thus have better developed executive functions than others, by and large I would describe most of my students over the years (all of whom have been just a year or two away from adulthood) as being in a state of dependence, especially as it pertains to thinking and acquiring knowledge.

Public schools have an important role in sustaining freedom by developing children into adults that are capable of self-governing. I have doubts about whether this is happening to an extent that our country needs to remain free. In subsequent posts, I will describe more indicators I have seen that children have low capacity for self-governing and common policies and practices in schools that discourage self-governing and becoming independent.

 

External and Internal Freedom

honor system

“Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power”
  – James Madison, The Federalist

My exploration of the nature of freedom has thus far concluded that freedom is a richer concept than simply doing whatever one wishes in the absence of external constraints. Rather, freedom has more to do with living in accordance with one’s purpose and being empowered to excel at doing good in the world, without having to be made or forced to do so.

Another distinction I wish to add to this exploration, borrowed again from Os Guinness (A Free People’s Suicide, 2013), is between external and internal freedom. While one may exist without the other, both are needed to be fully free.

Internal freedom is a spiritual condition. Rather than being controlled by one’s thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs, etc., a free person is able to regulate these internal states in service to a chosen or given end. Once achieved, internal freedom can be maintained even in the face of external forces that seek to control a person by shaping their internal state, e.g. a corporation manipulating people’s desires through marketing in order to influence their spending decisions.

The movie To End All Wars portrays life in a Japanese POW camp in Burma during WWII. The conditions were abominable, as Allied prisoners were stalked by disease, deprivation, and even death. Some of the prisoners, though, formed a school, and gathered to study great literature of Western civilization, including Shakespeare and the Bible. They even formed an orchestra and performed for their captors. Through their learning and sense of community, they protect their sense of dignity and individual worth, making them freer in one sense than their captors, whose worth depended completely on their place in the hierarchy. In a state of external bondage, they paradoxically attained a state of internal freedom.

External freedom is a political condition. This is what the Founding Fathers aimed for: freedom from oppressive restraints imposed by a monarchical government. Specific external freedoms are enumerated in the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, press, and free assembly, and freedom from unjust government interference such as unreasonable searches and seizures. The POWs were obviously denied this kind of freedom, and did not attain it until Allied forces liberated them from their captors.

While it is possible to have internal freedom without external freedom, the converse may not be true: external freedom requires internal freedom, and will inevitably be lost if citizens are not internally free.

This principle is supported by the natural consequences in society when people cannot be trusted to control their desires for the sake of acting honorably or with dignity. A few years ago, at the high school where I teach, teachers were allowed to get their own sweet tea or lemonade from containers located behind the serving counters. There was a can to drop money for the drinks (50 cents) on the “honor system.” I enjoyed the privilege of being able to make a drink the way I wanted, mixing tea and lemonade in pleasing proportions, and to use my own cup. I would save up spare change and looked forward to accumulating the required 50 cents every few days.

One day I discovered the drink table missing. Asking around as to its whereabouts, I learned from a cafeteria worker that it was taken away because too many teachers were getting drinks without paying and the cafeteria was losing money. Now, I had to ask for a drink; I could not use my own cup or prepare it the way I liked. This simple pleasure became something that had to be regulated and managed by external agents, all because enough teachers lacked the honor to pay for their drinks. Acting honorably requires internal freedom: the freedom to override one’s base desires to enjoy things at others expense. When people instead are ruled by such desires, distrust and disorder ensues, and consequently external freedom is diminished.

Such is the trajectory of America, with growing regulations and the death of common sense. Governor Mike Huckabee observed that “every shelf in a law library represents the failure of the people to govern themselves by moral principles.” Internal freedom is the freedom to direct one’s thoughts, emotions, etc., toward doing and being good. When such self-directness is missing, external freedom becomes impossible to maintain.

I think I have adequately, for now, explored the nature of freedom and thus laid the groundwork for evaluating the success of our current public school system in educating students to live as free people. From my experience, the public system is largely failing in its task to sustain freedom by inculcating the beliefs, values, and character that are essential to it. Rather, I fear that the opposite is happening. I will turn to this direction in my future posts.

Negative and Positive Freedom

balance

“The freedom of the subjective person to do as he pleases is overruled by the freedom of the responsible person to do as he must.” – Michael Polanyi (1891-1976)

This quote, from physical chemist turned philosopher, Michael Polanyi, highlights the tension between two aspects of freedom that often conflict in society: a negative aspect and a positive aspect.

Philosopher Os Guinness defines this negative aspect as “freedom from” (A Free People’s Suicide, 2012). When a people are oppressed politically by their rulers through onerous laws and regulations, and through revolution or the normal political process cast off these rules, they are achieving a negative freedom. Negative freedom is experienced by a prisoner being released from jail, and a student going off to college for the first time. Negative does not necessarily mean bad in a moral sense; it is called negative because it involves removing or subtracting something that is interfering or constraining instead of gaining something.

Guinness distinguishes the positive aspect as “freedom for.” Positive freedom is what you are freed to do. This relates to the idea in my previous post on the relation between freedom and final causes. Positive freedom is being freed to fulfill our created purpose: to pursue and achieve excellence in character and in work. Full fledged freedom requires both of these to be held in balance.  To achieve positive freedom, one must cast off certain constraints, but if constraints are cast off without a good goal or purpose in mind, negative freedom degenerates into disorder, and new, even tighter constraints will be imposed (by authorities).  In a free society, Guinness writes, “free citizens are neither prevented from doing what they should [preserving positive freedom], nor forced to do what they shouldn’t [preserving negative freedom]. Our First Amendment seeks to strike such a balance: on one hand the government cannot establish religion (and thus limit their negative freedom), but on the other hand it cannot prohibit people from expressing their religion (and thus their positive freedom).

These aspects of freedom are imbalanced in American society currently. The emphasis today is on negative freedom: in the form of freedom of imposition from others’ moral values (more of a liberal concern) or from government encroachment (more of a conservative concern). The idea of freedom being the ability to do whatever one wants focuses on the negative aspect of freedom: we are most free when no one else is interfering with our efforts to satisfy our desires. This is what Polanyi calls “the freedom of the subjective person to do as he pleases.” A subjective person is someone who believes that his wishes or selfish interests determines right or wrong, rejecting the idea of received moral duty. It is the spontaneous person acting by impulse in the name of being “authentic.”

Such negative freedom often conflicts with others’ positive freedom to fulfill their moral obligations. The “responsible person” is someone who believes that his moral duty is received and objective, and wants to fulfill it without having to be coerced into doing so. I see this conflict in the classroom between more rebellious students and more responsible, conscientious ones. Some students want to do whatever they please, so they socialize during assignments, horseplay during lab experiments, talk during lectures, etc.. Other students (the minority, unfortunately, in many settings) are willing to do what it takes to learn. I have to tell the former: “you may choose not to do your work, and I am not going to make you, but you may not interfere with others who are trying to learn.” In such a situation, the negative freedom of those doing whatever they want becomes a threat to the positive freedom of those working to fulfill their purpose (which in this case is acquiring knowledge so that they can more and more have influence over creation). As the authority in the classroom, my duty is to make sure the positive freedom overrules the negative.

Harmonizing these aspects of freedom is ideal. But when they are in conflict, as frequently happens when people want to remove all hindrances to desire, the freedom for doing what is good should take precedence over the freedom from constraints on another person’s desires.

How have you seen these aspects of freedom in conflict?

Is Spontaneity Freedom?

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jazz
This is the second in a series of short reflections on the nature of freedom. To know how to educate our children for freedom, we need to understand rightly what freedom is (and what it is not)

In the first post, I argued that freedom is not a state of limitlessness, but about thriving within limits that are fitting to our essential form and to our purpose. Timothy Keller, a pastor and best-selling author, once said in a sermon on freedom: “Freedom is not living with the absence of constraints, but living within the right constraints.” Finding the right constraints requires an understanding of human nature and purpose.

This definition implies, though, that there are wrong constraints; that is constraints that oppose freedom. These are forces that prevent us from realizing our purpose and are contrary to our flourishing. Consider, for instance, the nature of addiction. Addictions may begin with people doing what they want. There is a temporarily thrill of feeling free to perhaps do something new that was forbidden, like a teenager drinking alcohol for the first time with his peers in secret. Eventually, though, the desire grows in power and begins to the control the person. Now there is a drive to be satiated, a need that did not exist before for something that really isn’t needed. And the object of desire becomes something that the person has to have. Instead of controlling the desire for alcohol, the desire controls the person, leading to destructive consequences, for ourselves and for others. An addicted, impulsive person is not free, but is a slave to his wants.

A truly free person, on the other hand, can manage his wants in the pursuit of the fulfillment of a purpose. In other words, freedom is different from acting spontaneously on impulse. As one theologian put it, “Freedom is not doing whatever comes into your mind; it is doing whatever you have in your mind, that is doing what you set out to do.”

We confuse spontaneity with freedom, believing that freedom is about acting in some natural, unscripted way. For example, Donald Trump’s supporters in the Republican primary admire his “authenticity” because he says whatever comes to his mind, and is not constrained by the normal rules of political discourse. Deliberation and submission to order in one’s speech and conduct is viewed as insincere.

Freedom in terms pursuing and fulfilling a purpose (“doing what you set out to do”) requires thoughtfulness and respect for something bigger than oneself. Consider the kind of improvisation characteristic of live jazz performances. An expert jazz musician reacts quickly and unpredictably to the musical gestures of his fellow musicians, but not in an arbitrary way. To improve effectively requires a deep knowledge of and respect for the order of the music, attentiveness to what the other musicians are doing so that one’s actions cohere with the whole, and a consideration for the audience in the making of pleasing music.

Consider, finally, how we relate to and are affected by our smart phones. I find myself regularly distracted by my phone, even when it is not buzzing or ringing (but especially when it is). In the middle of doing something productive, I will pull out my phone for no specific reason except just to satisfy a need to be distracted. The phone may give me a sense of power and freedom since I can access so much information through it, but I often do not use it to fulfill something I have purposed to do. Instead, it feels like it is directing me. This is not freedom.

Please share your insights into what freedom is (and what it is not).

 

 

Freedom, Form, and Final Causes

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Beached Whale

Few would disagree that it is good to be free and that therefore we ought to be educating our children to live freely. Our disagreements lie in our conceptions of what freedom is – what it means to be free.

I recently surveyed my classes about the nature of freedom. One question was “How many of you believe that freedom is being able to do whatever you want?” The majority raised their hands. This notion of freedom, I think, prevails in American culture today: freedom is about throwing off constraints or limits on our desires, and choosing what we want.

But does this notion of freedom comport with reality? Is limitlessness, especially with respect to expression of our desires, the essence of freedom?

Consider an example from the natural world: a whale swimming in the ocean compared with a whale stranded on a beach. Water is a denser medium than air, and is thus more resistant to moving objects and restrictive. Yet in what medium is a whale the most free to move?

The answer is obvious. Let us consider why this is so. The whale possesses a form that is best suited to movement in an aqueous environment. The form of a thing are its essential characteristics. Think of it as an object’s fundamental design features that make it what it is and distinguish it from other things. The whale is more free when it is bound by limits that fit its form. Thus, a creature with a different form, say a cheetah, would be less free under the same environmental constraints.

We can generalize this illustration to say that freedom is not living without constraints, but living with right constraints, constraints that are appropriate to one’s form.

Form is not the only factor, though, that determines right constraints. According to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, to fully understand a thing, we must not only know its form, but also its “final cause.” The final cause, or telos, is its purpose: the end it is supposed to attain. In the classical Greek worldview everything had a telos.

airplane

Consider an example from the artificial world of transportation. A plane has a form that is suited for motion in the air; its freedom of motion is maximized in the sky. But this motion is also directed toward an end. If the plane were free to move randomly, it is not free to achieve its purpose, which is usually to reach a particular destination. A plane that cannot be directed toward this end would not be flown! Thus, its freedom to move also depends on its ability to accomplish the purpose for which it is made. The final cause is another constraint that enables its freedom.

Both of these examples are apt to humans, if one presupposes that humans have an essential nature, or form, and a purpose, or final cause (such presuppositions though are no longer self-evident in American culture and I would argue that the rejection or neglect of these lies at the heart of our educational malaise, but that is a much deeper topic for later). We are most free when we are living under the constraints of who we fundamentally are as human beings and when our choices are directed towards our given ends.

While this concept of freedom does not exclude choosing to act on one’s desires, it does impose qualifications on them. For if our desires direct us towards wrong ends, or are not fitting to our nature, then acting on them undermines freedom.

For further discussion (would love responses to any of these in your comments!):

  1. What characteristics of humans (both material and immaterial) are truly essential?
  2. What sort of moral constraints are fitting for these characteristics?
  3. Do human beings have a shared, objective purpose? How might differences over what this purpose is lead to different visions of what it means to live freely?

 

Preview of New Blog

The chief purpose of this blog is to examine and contribute to our nation’s “capacity for self-renewal” (of freedom) by discussing how the way we are educating our children today may be a threat to their liberty tomorrow, and how we can reform education to help preserve liberty.

My current plan is to begin with a series of reflections on the meaning of freedom before describing the symptoms I have seen that modern education is largely failing to develop free people. Then I will continue with a sustained exploration of the various causes – social-cultural, political-economic, philosophical, spiritual- of these symptoms.

I know this sounds ambitious, and it is! To succeed, I need the help of engaged readers, so please comment and share frequently anything that you find meaningful. Specifically, for this post, I would like to know your general thoughts about the purpose of this blog and any related topics you would be interested in discussing.