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Forbes columnist Michael Noer has a nice feature on the Acton MBA — “Startup School: An MBA Designed For Entrepreneurs, Not I-Bankers.”
Acton is unique because of “its relentless focus on a single goal: educating aspiring entrepreneurs. The curriculum discards the traditional M.B.A. silos of finance, accounting and marketing to revolve around the entrepreneurial cycle of creating, growing and selling a business.”
My Kaizen interview with Acton’s founder, Jeff Sandefer, is at the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship’s site. The Acton method is now also in place at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín.
Posted 1 month, 3 weeks ago at 8:11 am. Add a comment
My 38-minute overview of Montessori education, excerpted from my lecture on Objectivism, which is part of my Philosophy of Education course. Maria Montessori (1870–1952) was an Italian educator and theorist whose system of “scientific pedagogy” led to the development of Montessori schools worldwide.
More Montessori information and recommendations at my Montessori Education page.
* Please note that in the biographical introduction I say that Montessori graduated in engineering and in medicine when I should have said she studied both engineering and medicine and received her degree in the latter. Thanks to Peter Longfield for pointing that out.
Posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago at 8:01 am. 1 comment
My 2.5 hour video lecture on Objectivism, including its relation to Montessori education. The lecture is Part 12 of my Philosophy of Education course. Other “isms” in the series include Pragmatism, Behaviorism, Idealism, Realism, Existentialism, Marxism, and Postmodernism.
Rand's entrepreneurial philosophy
Value philosophy — Romanticism, Liberalism, Egoism:
The Romantic sense of life
Metaphysics and Epistemology:
"The Primacy of Existence"
Consciousness as Relational
Cognitive tabula rasa
Francis Bacon's “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed”
Mind/body integration, volition, reason and emotion, tabula rasa morally
Ethics and social philosophy:
Individualism: self-responsible living and the virtues
Egoism versus the false alternative of altruism or predation
Optimism: philosophy and history
Ayn Rand on education:
The purpose of education
Howard Roark’s expulsion as example
Critique of mainstream education
Rand on Montessori
Montessori practices and principles
The compatibility of Objectivist philosophy and Montessori education
[Further reading: Ayn Rand, "The Comprachicos" (at ebookbrowse.net). Quotations from Rand on philosophy and education (pdf). Quotations from Maria Montessori on education (pdf). Montessori Education page.]
View all of Part 12 at YouTube.
Posted 2 months, 4 weeks ago at 7:35 am. Add a comment
I’m reading E. G. West’s fascinating Education and the Industrial Revolution, which is a powerful argument for the conclusion that … well, let’s first look at some data.
Here’s a table comparing school enrollments in various parts of the world with enrollments in England and Wales a century earlier.
The table shows that by 1851 the English and Welsh already had a higher percentage of children in primary school than the world total was over a century later. That’s an impressive accomplishment.
“What may be more remarkable to some,” West notes, “is that the British schooling was entirely voluntary and almost entirely fee-paying“[1, italics added]. That is, the British educated their children without compulsory attendance laws and almost without taxation.
Another of West’s charts shows that — again without compulsion — the rate of increase in school attendance was about double the rate of population growth.
 E. G. West, Education and the Industrial Revolution, Second Edition, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 2001, pp. 31, 32. (First Edition published by B. T. Batsford, Ltd., London and Sydney, 1975.)
 Edwin West, “The Spread of Education Before Compulsion: Britain and America in the Nineteenth Century,” 1996.
Posted 3 months ago at 7:21 am. 6 comments
At the CEE site, my full interview with entrepreneurial investor Larry Abrams.
From the introduction: “Larry Abrams is a successful, Houston-based angel investor and venture capitalist. In addition to his wide-ranging investments, especially in biotechnology, he has produced films such as C.H.U.D. and co-produced By the Sword. In 2010 he published his first novel, The Philosophical Practitioner.”
An excerpt about how he became interested in investing:
‘I was introduced to the stock market when I was 13. I had a bar mitzvah and my father bought me ten shares of something called Bayuk Cigar. I was outside playing stickball, came in for dinner, and my father opened the newspaper to the stock market pages. He pointed to Bayuk Cigar and it said “plus one.” He said, “See this?” I said, “Yeah. So?” He said, “Well you have ten shares of it, so that means you made ten dollars.” I said, “Whoa! Wait a minute. You mean I was out playing stickball and I made ten dollars?” He said, “Yes, because you own ten shares of this company.” So I said, “Why don’t I collect these things? Why don’t I just collect stocks? Maybe I would have enough money coming in that I wouldn’t have to do anything else.” My father got very angry and he said, “I never want to hear you talk like that again. Man survives by the sweat of his brow. Anything to do with investments is strictly on the side.” I thought, I don’t know what his problem is, but I’m going to collect these things. That’s how I got interested.’
More of my Kaizen interviews with leading entrepreneurs.
Posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago at 8:05 am. Add a comment
I just came across Kevin Rathunde and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s academic study, published American Journal of Education. From the abstract:
“Multivariate analysis showed that the Montessori students reported greater affect, potency (i.e., feeling energetic), intrinsic motivation, flow experience, and undivided interest (i.e., the combination of high intrinsic motivation and high salience or importance) while engaged in academic activities at school. The traditional middle school students reported higher salience while doing academic work; however, such responses were often accompanied by low intrinsic motivation. When engaged in informal, non-academic activities, the students in both school contexts reported similar experiences.”
Kevin Rathunde and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. 2005 (May). “Middle School Students’ Motivation and Quality of Experience: A Comparison of Montessori and Traditional School Environments.” American Journal of Education 111, 341-371.
Posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago at 1:24 pm. Add a comment
I’m reading Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. A character comments:
“Everyone must have one thing that they can excel at. It’s just a matter of drawing it out, isn’t it? But school doesn’t know how to draw it out. It crushes the gift. It’s no wonder most people never get to be what they want to be. They just get ground down.” (p. 192) Sadly true of many education systems.
Hard-Boiled is a dystopian novel about personal identity and artificial intelligence set in Japan’s near future. Its mystery element makes it an engaging read, though its emotional atmosphere of abstracted impersonality is not to my taste. Murakami’s anonymous lead character explains himself indirectly through his choice of leisure reading material:
“I felt a new sympathy for [Turgenev's] protagonist Rudin. I almost never identify with anybody in Dostoevsky, but the characters in Turgenev’s old-fashioned novels are such victims of circumstance, I jump right in. I have a thing about losers. Flaws in oneself opens you up to others with flaws. Not that Dostoevsky’s characters don’t generate pathos, but they’re flawed in ways that don’t come across as faults. And while I’m on the subject, Tolstoy’s characters’ faults are so epic and out of scale, they’re as static as backdrops.” (p. 163)
The remark about Dostoevsky is very perceptive, as is the paragraph’s general point about aesthetic response as self-affirmation.
[Related: Autonomy as a human need.]
Posted 5 months ago at 9:04 pm. 2 comments
I love charts like this one (click for full size), and I give them to my students regularly. The accompanying advice I give to my students is the usual-but-important advice about passion:
* Major in what you are most excited about, for then you’ll have more fun doing the hard work and you’ll be more likely to be good at it.
* If you haven’t found your exciting field yet, then be actively seeking it. Take courses in fields you’ve never studied, and really try them out for a semester.
* To that I add: other things equal, choose a major that is difficult. The difficult fields are the ones where you will develop your skills and habits the most. Hence the relevance of charts like the above: some majors’ students consistently perform better on graduate admissions tests.
A caveat about the chart, though. The results are probably in part due to self-selection by students who already have good verbal, quantitative, and writing skills. For example, the philosophy major may improve your thinking skills, but it is also likely that those who already have good thinking skills will be more likely to be attracted to philosophy in the first place. Thus, it’s not clear how much value-added credit the philosophy major gets.
Even so, a follow-up piece of advice: if one is still looking for a major, go where the smart students are — those are the classmates with whom one wants to associate.
Final thought: No field of study is necessarily weaker than any other. For example, a Harvard dean of liberal arts once called his school’s Education Department “an intellectual kitten that deserves to be drowned.” Amusing rhetoric, and likely true of the state of academic education field then and other fields today. But education is a field of great intellectual challenge, and that should mean opportunity for education professionals to improve the quality of the major. The same holds for other fields with often-deserved weak reputations.*
Source: Katrina Sifferd’s “Pleas and Excuses” blog.
* Still, we philosophy majors secretly like to agree with Yogi Bear: “I’m smarter than the average bear!”
Posted 8 months ago at 9:03 am. Add a comment