The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

January 4, 2007

My Educational Dream

I’ve said before that I’m an engineer, I enjoy being an engineer, and for the money, there’s little better. But what if money weren’t a worry anymore?

Well, I’ve a had a few thoughts on that. First, my dream of writing a book would take a more central role in my life. And there’d be some travel, and some other enjoyment. But sometimes you need to be doing, and without a purpose, I’d go crazy. One of my options would be to open a brewpub with my wife. I could take care of the beer side of things, she could handle the menu (being a great cook), and it could be a heck of a lot of fun.

But I have one other nagging idea… I think about starting a school. There’s something rotting in our system of public education, and I think I know what it is. One of these days I need to read a bit of John Taylor Gatto, because I think he figured it out long before I did. But I think about why so much of my own public school education didn’t work for me, and how it doesn’t work for people like me. I see people who get discouraged and disillusioned. I see an entire educational system reduced to the lowest common denominator, not only in educational standards, but in behavioral standards as well (i.e. “zero tolerance”). I see a system where we’re teaching kids to “do”, but not to “think”.

I was struck when visiting my brother last month about some of the ways that Marines talk. He’s a Marine pilot, and the dream for a lot of military pilots is to make your way out to the airlines, where the real money is. Many of them look at the civilian world like it’s a machine. And you know what they say? “Plug me in!” I think something about being stuck in an outright machine, where are things like “orders” instead of “suggestions”, and “commanding officers” instead of “supervisors and managers”, tends to clarify the world a bit. Of course, the Marine Corps is a machine, and the corporate world is a machine, retail and the restaurant business are machines, and even life as a dependent of the state is a machine. Many of us look at our goal in life to make sure we plug into the “right” machine. I think our educational system is designed simply to make us want to plug into the machine, and to properly fit in that machine.

But that’s not good enough. I want to teach kids to design, build, operate, and maintain the machine. I don’t want to teach kids to fit into the system. There are enough of those kids around. They don’t wonder about the world, they don’t question the world, and the idea of individual rational thought terrifies them. I simply want to teach kids to ask “Why?” and then teach them how to answer their own question. I want to teach them that the answer to any question, and by extension the world, is within their grasp. But it goes one step further. I want to teach them that they don’t need to simply trust the answers provided to them, whether it be from friends, family, clergy, their boss, or their elected official or bureaucrat. If the answer given doesn’t seem right (and often also when it does), its their own responsibility to make sure they can find the right one. I don’t know if it would even take all that much effort. Once people wake up, they rarely choose to lull back to sleep. I think with enough effort to show them how badly others are trying to control their lives, they’ll learn the desire to control their own.

Now, many of you are probably thinking I’d like to indoctrinate some future libertarians. But that’s not my intent. Trying to create a generation of free-thinking individuals may have that result, but the wider result is an increase in the number of people who can do good in the world. It’s an increase in the number who may become entrepreneurs. Or it’s an increase in the number who may become scholars, scientists, and inventors, increasing the worlds supply of knowledge. At the very least, it’s a group of people who aren’t led by whim; it’s a group of people who know how to intelligently choose those who will lead them.

But it’s not only a positive action, it’s a defensive action. It’s a line in the sand. It’s a declaration that “I will not stand idly by while another generation becomes mindless drones in service to State and Corporation.” But it’s still only a dream, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Maybe someday I’ll take the time and effort to realize it.

The Unrepentant Individual linked with Engineering
Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:46 pm || Permalink || Comments (4) || Trackback URL || Categories: Education, Personal Life, Ponderings


  1. Start a program at a Boys and Girls Club after school. Build a machine. Teaching does not have to be done in a school. Only one needs to possess the ability.

    Comment by VRB — January 4, 2007 @ 10:34 pm
  2. [...] My Educational Dream [...]

    Pingback by The Unrepentant Individual » Engineering — January 6, 2007 @ 12:58 pm
  3. Brad, the biggest problem (and I say this as a teacher) is that you don’t get extended time with students. I get my students for three hours a week, for 36 weeks. What you are talking about takes a lot longer – it’s a philosophy and a way of life. I barely have time to teach them the vocabulary and mathematics of physics, let alone the philosophy.

    When these kids come to me in their junior or senior year of high school, they’ve already got their basic philosophies of life. They are already scientists, or not. They are already linguists, or not. Realistically, I can do little to engender a scientific or engineering mindset in them – I can only stunt it and destroy it.

    I have talked with Rammage and a few others at AtlasBlogged about what it would take to start a private school. And I would love to homeschool my own kids (to the point of not sending them to public school, of course). It’s an absolute dream of mine – to engineer an education that encourages this type of thinking, especially in students whose interests will take them to degrees and careers that are not “Engineering”.

    But as you say, it’s still only a dream.

    Comment by Wulf — January 10, 2007 @ 5:29 pm
  4. Boy does this song sound familiar. I, too, am an engineer who dreams of the personal fulfillment and joy that would be involved in starting a school. But I think there’s a financial incentive here, too. As more parents grow disillusioned with the public school system – but are wary of religion-based or Left-leaning Montessori-type schools – I believe a market will (has already?) open. If vouchers ever come to fruition, it’d only be the icing on the cake.

    Instead of keeping it a dream of yours, how about finding some like-minded individuals and talk business? [Stares at Wulf & self]

    Comment by rammage — January 10, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

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