Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tools For Teaching Our Children

We are all sold on the idea of teaching our children correct principles, but we don't always know how to go about teaching them, without boring them to death.

Yesterday I met a man named Bryan Knysh who owns  He wanted his kids to learn, but found their schoolwork boring and uninspiring.  He decided to stay a few steps ahead of what his kids were learning in school and make his own curriculum for them.  Now that's a dedicated dad! is one of the results. (Happy and learned kids is another, I'm sure.)

"The Kidport learning system applies visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles to help students better learn and understand."  The site is mostly about delivering high quality content efficiently.  There are learning modules, interactive workbooks, reference libraries, and projects with real world application.  Subjects include Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Creative Arts.  The materials cater to grades K-8.

There is a whole section on the American Revolution.

I was inspired by this fathers dedication to his kids and the quality content on his site, so I wanted to share.  Maybe you can find some content to share or projects to do with your kids!

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Freedom Principle 3: Elect Virtuous Leaders

In the last post on Freedom Principle 2, I talked about only virtuous people being capable of freedom.  Freedom Principle number 3 follows by saying that the easiest way to secure virtuous people is to elect virtuous leaders.

"...thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness (unjust gain); and place such over them, to be rulers..."  -Exodus 18:21

The easiest way for us to determine which leaders can help foster public virtue is simply to look into their lives and see if they have private virtue.  Jefferson had a philosophy of "Natural Aristocracy".  He believed that those citizens who typified virtue in their private lives and demonstrated leadership, should rise to the occasion out of a sense of duty to an office of government.  Samuel Adams added that a public official should not be chosen if they lacked virtue and demonstrated wisdom.  Washington was a great example of Natural Aristocracy.  He allowed to be called out of retirement three times to serve the country and with no pay.

The opposite of Natural Aristocracy is "Artificial Aristocracy".  Examples are those that are born into influential families and obtained position in life because of their wealth or station (think Paris Hilton, perhaps?).  Of this matter Jefferson stated:
There is a natural aristocracy among men.  The grounds of this are virtue and talents... There is, also, an artificial aristocracy, founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class.  The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society.  And indeed, it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of society.  May we not even say, that that form of government is the best, with provided the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government? (Ford, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 9:425)
For promoting the public happiness, those persons whom nature has endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens; and they should be called to that charge without regard to... birth, or other accidental condition or circumstance. (Ibid., 2:221.)
John Adams regarded politics to be a "divine science" and wondered how it was at all possible that "man should ever think of making it subservient to his own little passions and mean private interests."  He also believed in much preparation for a political career and wrote this beautiful sentiment to his wife in a letter:
... I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.  My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. (Ibid., p. 188.)
Public office was to be considered an honor, not a place for position or profit.  While in America, people were rising to places of high office based on personal merit, Benjamin Franklin noted that in Europe, people were pining for positions because they paid so well.  One of the greatest, inspired decisions the Founders made was to pay politicians little or no compensation.  Even Washington's Presidential position allotted for a $25,000 salary, he opted not to take it.  It was the commonly accepted ideal that if the politicians could live without even the little compensation they were entitled to, they would.

Stop and think about it.  What kind of people would step up to serve for little to no compensation?  And what kind of people would be attracted to high office for substantial pay?  Those choosing to serve for little to nothing are probably feeling called to serve from a sense of duty and loyalty to a cause.  I'd much rather have that kind of leader than one who is bought with money.  This is not really a shameless plug for Ron Paul, but the truth is, he is the only Congressman that I know of who, like Washington and other Founders, declines his government paycheck.

The point of little to no pay in government offices is to attract men of public and private virtue and not power or position seekers.  Franklin believed there were two passions that have powerful influences over men... the love of power and the love of money; and that "when united in view of the same object, they have in many minds the most violent effects."  We don't have to look very far or wide to see that in our modern day government.

Franklin prophesied that while they enjoyed the peace that brought little to no pay government positions then, that it wouldn't last long; that there "will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may in turn give more to them."  He foresaw that the way America could fall back into an executive with monarchial powers via profit in position.  He said:
There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharaoh - get first all the people's money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants forever.
 Even before Franklin made his pleas for modest to no salaries, the Pennsylvania State Constitution said:
As every freeman, to preserve his independence, ought to have some profession, calling, trade, or farm, whereby he may honestly subsist, there can be no necessity for, nor use in, establishing offices of profit, the usual effects of which are dependence and servility, unbecoming freemen, in the possessors and expectants; faction, contention, corruption, and disorder among the people.  Wherefore, whenever and office, through increase of fees or otherwise, becomes profitable, as to occasion many to apply for it, the profits ought to be lessened by the legislature. (Ibid.)
Our Founders were men of amazing character.  They accepted the self-evident truths that they believed were necessary to be virtuous and moral people.  Cleon Skousen said, "Beliefs based on reason and self-evident truth bring a human being into harmony with natural law and the eternal realities of the cosmic universe."

Which is why the fourth freedom principle is Religion.  Oooh, a controversy may be brewing... 

In what ways do you see how high paying positions corrupt?  And what are all the ways our leaders are getting "paid"?  Please comment below.

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