Thursday, October 28, 2010

To young to befit

Studies confirm what has been obvious to everyone paying attention:

On average, kids at the ages 8-18 are devoting 7 hours a day to media devices, such as T.V, texting, video games, computer, etc.

Its true, based on my experience, if you go to a teenage rich environment, I can almost guarantee that 30+% of those kids are burying their heads in their metaphorical texting inbox. American kids are just not qualified for rebuilding our civilization. That's all there is to it. Circumstances are becoming as demanding as ever, and these kids won't be able to handle them. On top of that, our government has been winning its war against the nuclear family by including more single mothers into wealthfare, acting as their collective beta provider. In turn producing ever more ill-equipped children unable to handle their future responsibilities.

For those that took the PSAT in both 2008 and 2009 and noticed that overall scores were slightly less competitive in the latter year, your not alone - despite the fact that my math scores were the same, I was placed a percentage point better in 2009 than 2008. So not only are kids not becoming more motivated academically despite the turmoil of our times, they are less motivated. This speaks volumes about the short-sightedness of youth - and speaks encyclopedias about the culture that worships it.

I can't speak for anyone else, but the outside pressures of depression and degeneration are an impetus for me to bust backside. I still await my scores that I get for this years PSAT, but rest secure that I improved dramatically from last year.

But moving on, I can't see fit to complain, it just makes my job that much easier.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A new name for myself

Just as the differences between a public schooler and homeschooler are readily apparent, so are the differences between the different breeds of homeschoolers. There are two primary types:

1. Those that are homeschooled but follow a rigid curriculum and often times take many outside classes.

2. Those that are home, hardly take any outside courses, not many tests, no recognizable curriculum, and are motivated not by external rewards, such as grades, but for the sake of learning. Intrinsic versus extrinsic.

The majority happen to fallen under the first category, I on the other hand, fall into the second. Once these differences became apparent to me, I took upon myself to give the latter category a name: A freelance student.

So the next time someone asks me what I do for my schooling, I will now have a specific answer.

As should be obvious, the first category is much more akin to the publicschool system. Superior for certain, but its break from it is not a complete one. Most of the homeschoolers I know participate in many "co-op" classes, which in my opinion is just a repeat of the same mistakes the public school makes; the kids and the environment are better, but collective learning via a classroom is an outdated system of education. Granted that I take a chemistry course at a local community college - which is the only outside class I'm taking, by the way -, but that is a hard science that requires feedback and laboratory work. There are exceptions. But then again, taking English there wasn't exactly an educational marvel.

The main problem with the public school and some homeschool breeds is the same one that faces every centrally planned economy in a socialist commonwealth: coercion. Coercion butchers curiosity and the will to learn. It has been known for literal centuries that men tend to gravitate toward their own ideas as opposed to someone else's. Volition is a self-perpetuating machine that fosters in its victim a far stronger avidity than coercion ever can.

What I am proposing - and what human nature is testifying - is not that school should be a completely lawless activity, but rather one that fosters independence and a will to learn through one's own volition. This is not easy, it takes a whole more energy and intelligence than resorting to force. Remember, force is the refuge of the weak man who doesn't have the brains to handle a situation.

So the logic firmly holds water, but how about the empirical and anecdotal evidence? A quick study of the greatest inventors and innovators should suffice to demonstrate that it was not external rewards like fame and money that motivated geniuses, but the satisfaction of learning and creating for its own sake.
An an anecdotal level, I for example may be considered uneducated by a firm credentialist. And that may be true, but then again, I note with no little amusement that Wikipedia felt it important enough to mention that Ben Bernanke taught himself Calculus in the absence of school support, which of course is exactly what I am doing, as a Junior no less.

I also happen to know more about economics than over 90% of adults; conversation and this blog should suffice to prove this.

I am not apprising you of this because of I want to pronounce my egoism - in fact, I try to evaluate my knowledge on absolute instead of relative terms. But rather, I am spelling this out to provide you with a better understanding behind a better educational process.

But from now on, I am, and for the rest of my time in this world, a freelance student.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Talent is Overated"

A little over a week ago when I was at the Houston airport awaiting my flight to Baltimore, I picked up the book "Talent is overrated" by Geoff Colvin. I finished it last friday.
Before I start my review it must be noted that his definition of talent is what most people call "natural talent." So his thesis is not that ability and aptitude themselves are overrated, it is that the natural component of what makes talent is dramatized.
What I found interesting about this book is that his conclusions and his way of thinking are very similar the ones that I have been formulating since I have given the matter a thought.
For example, his categorization of the different models of talent are "sports model," "music model," and "business model," which is in accordance with my own thoughts.
His thesis about what really separates the truly talented with the mediocre too, bears a no small resemblance to my own formulations. He contends that it is not natural aptitude that determines greatness, but nor is it just plain old hard work; it is what he calls "deliberate practice." Practice that demands concentration, that is harder each time, that gets one out of his comfort zone, and is "not inherently enjoyable." Practice that incorporates specific, short term goals within a framework of a long term goal. Practice that is expertly designed and gives constant feedback.

Colver gives plenty of examples of what deliberate practice is and real life examples of how it was done, revealing that its the sort of practice that we seldom do.

The author places a special emphasis on the business stars, spelling out the stories of some of America's top C.E.O's.

After delving into the essence of deliberate practice, Colver then proceeds to outline how it can be applied to organizations in making the individuals and teams into a higher caliber. G.E, for example, spends millions of dollars and devotes thousands of work hours for employee development programs.

There is more to the book, of course, and with the conclusion of this review, I will gladly let the reader find out for himself.

America's Anomie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The implications of Free Trade

Sometimes there are just those moments when, whatever you are doing, you find yourself in awe of the shattered visage of what used to be your seemingly self-evident preconceptions. Whats obvious is not always right. In fact, it more often than not seems as if the two have an inverse relationship.
One such moment occurred after reading Vox Day's excellent post on the implications of free trade. The Austrian School of Economics, of which both Vox and I for the most part subscribe to, states that free trade is both necessary for economic liberty and economic prosperity. This seemed to be fairly reasonable, which is why it has remained largely unquestioned. But as the empirical evidence is being garnered, many have raised their voices in pronouncing their skepticism of the merits of free trade.
When the observable facts are in agreement with your assumptions, the logic behind those assumptions goes relatively unquestioned, but as the empirical world obliterates those rationales, then the reasoning behind those beliefs undergo a more rigorous examination. Not only has the empirical evidence gone against free trade theory, but its logical foundation in Ricardo's comparative advantage is flawed.

Moreover, it is not just economic prosperity that suffers from free-trade. Economic freedom takes a ruthless beating as well. Nationalism may have its flaws, but it is an absolutely necessary gambit for a country to preserve its freedom. What many do not understand is if free-trade is implemented in its most pure form, then labor and services can also be traded freely in and out of the Country. This is why traditional Libertarians have espoused open borders.
What Vox's post demonstrates is that not only is this economically unsound, it is disastrous for human freedom. Any student of history will know that immigration can transform a country, for the better or (more often) than worse. There are various reasons that immigration - or at least mass immigration - will usually inflict detrimental results to a country, but the primary reason is what I call the equilibrium principle. To illustrate, if a room has one side that is cold and the other side that is hot, over time heat will naturally flow into the colder areas until the temperature throughout the room is homogeneous. In like manner, the prosperous countries, like the USA, attracts foreigners who don't have it so well in their homeland like a donut shop attract a cop, and in doing so, brings his culture. A conflict ensues as the cultures clash, and the society is transformed, usually leaving less freedoms for the people.
So in keeping with libertarian principles, it makes perfect sense to direct a vigilant eye towards open immigration, and, by extension, free trade.
Over two hundred years ago, the founding fathers understood the importance of tariffs in maintaining a strong industrial base. Events have again confirmed their wisdom, as 50 years of Free Trade has eviscerated the America's manufacturing base. Leaving us and our freedoms more dependent and susceptible to other countries.
Free Trade definitely has its merits, and for some countries, particularly developing ones, it is a good economic policy. However, for a service driven economy such as the USA, it is not only an economic ill, but can be disastrous for human liberty. It has already been proven in real time that universal suffrage is directly incompatible with freedom, more often than not will free trade undergo a similar process. Whats obvious is not always correct.