Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Value of Education

By Jared and Selena Sorensen

The good education of youth has been esteemed by wise men of all ages as the surest foundation of happiness.” Benjamin Franklin

Our freedoms are under attack, our economy has weakened and public virtue among our political leaders has vanished. History repeats itself and therefore we are experiencing the past due crisis in our nation. Although the government can be blamed for many of the maladies in our current economy, if there is to be real “change” it will come from the bottom and work its way up, not be imposed upon us from those on the top. That means that we must begin with our generation in order to become the informed electorate envisioned by the founders of our country. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free…it expects what never was and never will be.”(Thomas Jefferson) By paying the price to obtain a Leadership Education for ourselves and our children, we can stop the erosion of our freedoms.

Right now we are seeing in the world a period of deflation and revaluation in property, stocks and commodities. There have been housing bubbles, tuition bubbles, and even bubbles in the commodities that have burst and caused values to decline 50% and more. What has happened to the value of education during this deflationary period? This largely depends on the type of education one possesses. Unemployment rates are now in the double digits suggesting that the current recession has affected all sectors of the working class. Many highly educated individuals have found that they are no longer needed as businesses, out of necessity, down size their work forces.

Leaders Wanted!

Where will the leaders come from to bring the United States back to the principles upon which the country was founded? Are these principles obsolete in the 21st century? The individuals that will lead our nation are being created right now in our homes.

The United States is among the most educated societies ever to live on the earth. One who believes in the value of education might be predisposed to believe that our country would be free from many of the ills that have plagued former civilizations. Recent attacks on morality and the current economic crisis suggests we are not immune from these problems. What is wrong? Perhaps the answer lies in our education.

The Founding Fathers realized that for freedom to endure it was necessary to implement public education. Jefferson stated, “If the condition of man is to be progressively ameliorated (improved) as we fondly hope and believe, [education] is to be the chief instrument in effecting it.”

In order to make the changes we need in our society, we must first know what types of education are now available to us. They can be divided into at least three groups: Job training, Professional, and Leadership Education.

Job training

Job Training is the type of education offered by many universities, technical schools, training programs and the public schools in America. The purpose of this educational system is to give individuals the skills needed to obtain jobs and become functional citizens in the nation. There is nothing wrong with this form of education; in fact it is a great thing. Job training does have some weaknesses however, as we can see by the current number of individuals who have received this form of education that are now unemployed. These individuals sacrificed both time and money to acquire the skills that would get them good paying jobs. Unfortunately, many of these skills are now obsolete or are not currently in demand.

Professional Education

Doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and many of those currently serving in political offices receive a professional education. These individuals are an integral part of any society because their services improve the quality of life for the people. The time and money required to receive a professional education is extremely great, and the monetary rewards they receive are commensurate with their investment. Because the services rendered by professionals are so needed, they have greater job security. These individuals are not immune from the economic recession however. Professionals may still have employment, but they have witnessed the erosion of their net worth thus requiring them to postpone retirement.

Leadership Education

There is another form of education that is known as leadership or Oxford education. This type of education involves the in-depth study of classical works, books, and art. Leadership education is based on the ancient Hebrew model of education, whereby a mentor works closely with a student to form a personalized education that will be a guide on the path to obtaining wisdom. Wisdom is defined by Webster as: “Insightful understanding of what is true, right, or enduring,” and represents the “amassed learning of philosophers, scientists, and scholars.” True wisdom, combined with common sense, or “native good judgment,” gives the student depth and breadth in all subjects, including math and science. We are living in the information age. Information however is of minimal worth if it cannot be converted into wisdom. Wisdom must also be coupled with moral principles to prevent tyranny and despotism. A good example of the lack of moral principles in leadership was demonstrated in the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler.

Many of the Founding Fathers of America received a leadership education under the hands of great mentors such as George Wythe. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and their contemporaries studied the works of Montesquieu, Cicero, Plato and many others, in their original context and very often in their original languages. Those history lessons enabled the Founders to come together in the common cause of creating and preserving a system that would protect man’s inalienable rights and God-given freedoms. As a result of these men coming together with a common goal—because of their wisdom obtained through their education, and under the hand of God, the Constitution of the United States was born.

Some argue that the principles upon which the United States Constitution is founded are outdated and not applicable in our day. To an extent that may be true, but if it is, it is a result of our Nation’s actions that are contrary to moral government. The Constitution has no power over an immoral people. John Adams stated: “Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Morality has been steadily on the decline in our nation for the past century. The ills that have eroded the moorings of the Constitution cannot be corrected overnight and not without sacrifice and effort.

The purpose of job training education is to teach a person what to think, professional education teaches people when to think, and leadership education teaches one how to think. What could be more important for all of us who love our country than to know how to think, how to study and plan, how to discern between right and wrong and how to have the courage to choose the right.
Although all education is good, leadership education gives one a breadth of knowledge that allows the student to adapt to changing circumstances. This does not ensure that the person with a world-class leadership education will not lose his or her employment during economic downturns, but if that individual does, he or she will be more likely to find the silver lining in the storm cloud and the opportunities that inevitably accompany every crisis. The current crisis in our world has leveled the playing field in many ways for those in the work force. The leadership-educated entrepreneur now has many advantages over the individual who has become indebted to obtain a degree from a prestigious university.

Freedom and Education

If our nation is to remain free we must return to the principles upon which this great nation was founded. Leadership education principles can be applied in any system of education. “Lay down true principles, adhere to them inflexibly, and do not be frightened into their surrender.” (Thomas Jefferson) The key is to take responsibility for one’s own education. Sir Walter Scott stated, “All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.” It is up to each of us to become educated and then assist in the education of those around us. The big question is how. And the answer is: Prayerfully seek for guidance from God, and then go to the classics, find a mentor who has the type of education you desire, and start now to educate yourself and your children. The call to leadership will come. As we pay the price to obtain a leadership education we can answer that call and follow the wisdom of Gandhi to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Jared Sorensen lives with his wife, Selena, and their 6 children on a ranch in Ruby Valley, Nevada. Jared and Selena are obtaining a leadership education through George Wythe University and are striving to give a leadership education to their children.

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