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Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Elocution
Fundamentals of a Freedomship Education By Andrew Pudewa
To what end do we educate? Is it for academic achievement and success in college, or perhaps something else? Most of us would probably agree that nurturing in our children the qualities of teachability, integrity, initiative, independence, discernment, wisdom, and virtue is far more important than getting good grades in chemistry and trigonometry, but sadly these aptitudes don’t usually find a place on a traditional high school transcript. Perhaps, our deepest motives for educating our children in the way we do should extend beyond our concern for their individual futures, to the future of our country and our world.
In his new book, The Coming Aristocracy: Education and the Future of Freedom, Oliver DeMille (author of A Thomas Jefferson Education) paints a somewhat grim picture of what happens when the large majority of people cease being farmers, merchants, artisans, and owners of the means of production, and become merely employees of large bureaucracies and corporations: An elite class—an aristocracy or oligarchy—gains power over the citizenry, inevitably establishing a fascist state (where government serves and is controlled by capital interests) or a communist state (where government owns and manipulates capital interests). The solution proposed by DeMille is “Freedom Education” and the return to a georgic way of thinking and living: not exclusively agrarian, but promoting the “mini-factory” (which exists whenever a smaller, more effective entity can achieve better results than a larger one). Though not explicitly stated in his book, DeMille’s vision is essentially the same as that of G. K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc, who understood that in a free society ownership of the means of production should be spread throughout the citizenry as broadly as possible—an economic philosophy often termed “Distributism.”
However, nurturing a new generation of farmers, merchants, artisans, and owners requires an education fundamentally different than the employee-training which Americans receive; it requires individualized education with an emphasis on mission, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills. While we at IEW believe that all our materials can indirectly assist parents and teachers in this quest, three of our new products are clearly more overt attempts to promote this mindset in young people.
Economics-Based Writing Lessons is the newest addition to our collection of lesson plans designed to support teachers using the Structure & Style syllabus. Aimed at the high school student with a general interest in the study of economics, it contains assignment from Units I through IX, beginning with simple definitions and stories of business successes, and then progressing to analytical essays on micro- and macro-economic questions. Though not meant to be a replacement for a formal study of economics, it will likely pique the interest of some students while giving a valuable general knowledge to others.
In Lemonade to Leadership: Nurturing Entrepreneurs, I finally found what I have long been searching for: an appropriate and effective course in entrepreneurship for young people. I am entirely convinced that students who have been educated in a way that promotes initiative, real thinking, and ingenuity should also have some practical and explicit training in how to apply their talents to starting a business, and this program provides exactly that. Written in a concise and organized way, this two-volume set presents the essential vocabulary of commerce, the fundamental procedures of planning, the practical elements of dealing with customers, and the basic principles of record keeping—all in a way that the middle-school age entrepreneur can grasp and apply. The teacher’s manual and student book can easily be used with one child at home or with a dozen kids in a class. We need a nation of entrepreneurial, mission-driven, prepared young adults; it’s never too soon (or too late) to start nurturing this aptitude.
Speech Boot Camp is our new video version of a short but powerful public speaking intensive course I have facilitated many times in my home town, mainly for students twelve and up as preparation for joining a competitive speech and debate club. But even for students who do not continue with competition, confidence with public speaking is an essential skill, vital for those who would pursue a future in teaching, in leadership, in entrepreneurship, in freedomship. Assuming no previous experience, I introduce in this “public speaking boot camp” the most important basic concepts for organizing and presenting a speech, give ample opportunity for practice, and teach students how to effectively critique and encourage each other. The carefully edited DVDs include several sample speeches by students both experienced and novice, and the corresponding e-book contains all the handouts necessary to enjoy the class just as if you were in the room with us. Although it was presented live and recorded in four sessions over two weeks, we have provided teaching suggestions and additional activities that can make it a two-month course, ideal for either the family or the small group. Long ago, the vital skill of speaking well, or “elocution,” was considered an essential part of every citizen’s basic education, enabling the average man or woman to not only reason soundly but to present ideas in a winsome, intelligent, persuasive way. Sadly the art of speaking well has faded as a required subject in most schools, but it should not be a missing element in our students’ formation.
“What are we really doing here?” That’s a question we as parents and teachers must always be asking. I, for one, am certain of this: The
education of free men and women must include certain fundamentals, and among those are economics, entrepreneurship, and elocution. To
fail in this might be to fail the very future of freedom.