With my perfect betting recordhanging in the balance, I follow Brexit news to the point of obsession. Out of the many hundreds of stories I’ve read, though, I have yet to hear anyone point to the simplest path to Brexit: Let Britain buy its way out! In Theresa May’s failed deal, the UK was supposed to pay the EU about £38 billion for the “divorce.” Yet there is nothing magical about this price tag. It could just as easily be £40 billion, or £140 billion. Why, then, can’t the UK just tell the EU, “The backstop is a deal-breaker. How much money will it take to make this issue go away”?
If this were any normal business deal, this straightforward path would be on the tip of every Brexiteer’s tongue. It’s the logic of any familiar real estate transaction:
“We won’t buy unless you fix the roof.”
“OK, that will cost me $25,000, so let’s add that to the price. Ready to sign now?”
As far as I can tell, however, there isn’t a single prominent British or European politician who even mentions the possibility of letting the UK pay more to get more, much less advocates it. Instead, we see British politicians demanding better terms for free, and Europeans saying that the current deal is Take-It-Or-Leave-It.
But politics isn’t like business, you say? I know! I’ve been saying so for decades! The very fact that elementary monetary bargaining on Brexit is so unthinkable is yet another symptom of the psychological chasm between the relatively rational, instrumental world of business and the irrational, expressive world of government.
Brexit now hogs the global stage, but politics is packed with look-alike impasses. Why can’t Israelis just pay Palestinians for the land settlers have taken? Why can’t the EU just pay Russian to withdraw from Ukraine? Why can’t the U.S. just pay Maduro to resign – and Russia to welcome the regime change? Indeed, why can’t Bay Area developers just pay local governments to approve a hundred more skyscrapers? In each case, the answer is a multilateral mix of foolish pride and wishful thinking.
Since I think that Brexit is a bad idea, why am I telling its advocates how to proceed? Because I know Brexiteers won’t listen – and even if they did, the EU wouldn’t budge. While I can understand the failures of politics, I have near-zero ability to solve them. Not coincidentally, this is precisely what my view predicts.
Your kids can be little for longer. Early school enrollment has been linked by Harvard researchers with troubling rates of ADHD diagnosis. A year can make a big difference in early childhood development.
Some of us are just late bloomers. We don’t all need to be on “America’s early-blooming conveyor belt.”
Homeschooling learning centers are sprouting worldwide, prioritizing self-directed education and allowing more flexibility to more families who want to homeschool.
Parks, beaches, libraries, and museums are often less crowded during school hours, and many offer programming specifically for homeschoolers.
You’re not alone. Nearly two million US children are homeschooled, and the homeschooling population is increasingly reflective of America’s diversity. In fact, the number of black homeschoolers doubled between 2007 and 2011.
One-quarter of today’s homeschoolers are Hispanic-Americans who want to preserve bilingualism and family culture.
Some families of color are choosing homeschooling to escape what they see as poor academic outcomes in schools, a curriculum that ignores their cultural heritage, institutional racism, and disciplinary approaches that disproportionately target children of color.
More military families are choosing homeschooling to provide stability and consistency through frequent relocations and deployments.
While the majority of homeschoolers are Christians, many Muslim families are choosing to homeschool, as are atheists.
More urban parents are choosing to homeschool, prioritizing family and individualized learning.
Religious freedom may be important to many homeschooling families, but it is not the primary reason they choose to homeschool. “Concern about the school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure” is the top motivator according to federal data.
Some parents choose homeschooling because they are frustrated by Common Core curriculum frameworks and frequent testing in public schools.
Adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicide decline during the summer, but Vanderbilt University researchers found that suicidal tendencies spike at back-to-school time. (This is a pattern opposite to that of adults, who experience more suicidal thoughts and acts in the summertime.) Homeschooling your kids may reduce these school-induced mental health issues.
Many teen homeschoolers take community college classes and transfer into four-year universities with significant credits and cost-savings. Research suggests that community college transfers also do better than their non-transfer peers.
In fact, more homeschooling families from the tech community in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are choosing to homeschool their kids.
Hybrid homeschooling models are popping up everywhere, allowing more families access to this educational option.
Some of these hybrid homeschool programs are public charter schools that are free to attend and actually give families access to funds for homeschooling.
Other education choice mechanisms, like Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and tax-credit scholarship programs, are expanding to include homeschoolers, offering financial assistance to those families who need and want it.
Some states allow homeschoolers to fully participate in their local school sports teams and extracurricular activities.
Homeschooling may be particularly helpful for children with disabilities, like dyslexia, as the personalized learning model allows for more flexibility and customization.
Your homeschooled kids will probably be able to name at least one right protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, something 37 percent of adults who participated in a recent University of Pennsylvania survey couldn’t do.
Homeschooling can be preferable to school because it’s a totally different learning environment. As homeschooling pioneer John Holt wrote in Teach Your Own: “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth in the world is not that it is a better school than the schools but that it isn’t a school at all.”
“Contentious Issues in Classical Liberalism” was the theme of this year’s Mont Pelerin Society. This gave me a chance to explore a major puzzle: Sociologically, immigration clearly deserves to be on the agenda. After all, many people otherwise sympathetic to human freedom and free markets support even more immigration restrictions than we already have. Intellectually, however, it’s hard to see why.
The plot thickens when you notice that pro-freedom immigration skeptics routinely use arguments that almost never use in any other context, starting with:
1. Collective ownership. Yes, if countries are the collective property of their citizens, then they have a right to regulate immigration. But this also implies nations’ right to regulate everything else, too! You can’t live on my land without my consent, but neither can you open a store on my land without my consent, or even hire someone to work on my land for less than the minimum wage without my consent.
2. Collective guilt. Yes, if e.g. foreign Muslims are collectively guilty for whatever wrongs foreign Muslims have done in the past, then immigration restrictions against Muslims would be justified. But this also implies that other people can legitimately hold us collectively guilty for whatever wrongs “we’ve” done in the past. So affirmative action, reparations for slavery and colonialism, returning land to American Indians, and much more are suddenly on the agenda.
3. Shocking anecdotes. Yes, if we ought to take shocking anecdotes seriously, then any awful immigrant action on CNN justifies a major policy response. But this also implies that shocking anecdotes about poverty, health care, worker safety, and the environment on CNN also justify major policy responses.
4. Popular support. Yes, if “This is what citizens want, and they’re entitled to get their way,” then immigration restrictions easily pass muster. But so do virtually all the policies classical liberals traditionally oppose, starting with protectionism and a bunch of price controls.
Unless you’re going to abandon the whole classical liberal framework, basic intellectual hygiene requires you to excise any argument along these lines. What remains? Only arguments claiming that the consequences of immigration are awful enough to overcome the standard classical liberal presumption against government action.
We can predict the future of education by glimpsing the past of transportation. Fueled by technological innovation, namely electricity, streetcars gradually replaced the horse-and-buggy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, followed by mass-produced automobiles that ultimately toppled the streetcar.
Throughout the 20th century, cars became safer, faster, cleaner, and cheaper and allowed individuals unprecedented mobility and autonomy. Then, in the 21st century, car-sharing applications showed how technology could once again disrupt the transportation industry, expanding rider options and challenging entrenched systems of control.
Education transformation will take a similar path. Fueled by technological innovation, schools are now in the middle of their streetcar moment. Chalkboards are still ubiquitous, but computers are increasingly being used not only to supplement learning but also to administer it. Personalized learning, as this technology-enabled classroom education is called, is all the rage.
In public schools like those using Summit Learning, a personalized, online learning approach developed by Facebook engineers and funded by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, the computer becomes the teacher, executing a largely self-paced curriculum and offering more flexibility and autonomy for students.True education transformation will come when learners realize that they don’t need an intermediary at all. The platform has sparked controversy, as some parents and educators resist change. Like the streetcar and transportation, personalized learning in schools is altering and modernizing the educational landscape. But it is just a launchpad.
True education transformation will come when learners realize that they don’t need an intermediary at all. Personalized learning in conventional schools will shift to self-directed education or unschooling, driven by the learner herself using the resource-rich networks of both real and digital communities. As Ivan Illich wrote in Deschooling Society:
The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.
Illich wrote those words in 1970 before the technological webs now at our fingertips were ever imagined. The funnel model of education, even when augmented by technology, is simply passé. Conflating learning with schooling, mired in coercion and a controlled curriculum, is an outdated idea. Schooling is something that others do to you; learning is something you do for yourself.
A New Perspective on Learning Itself
We already see how this works in our own adult lives. Just as the first automobiles began to disrupt old notions of transportation, recent technological innovations are recalibrating the way we learn. Whether it’s using YouTube to fix a toilet, Duolingo to learn a language, Audible to listen to books, or FaceTime to have lessons with your guitar instructor, technological platforms and applications are quickly helping us to shed our schooled vision of learning. Increasingly, we see that we can self-educate by following our own curiosities and pursuing our own personal and professional goals.
We can choose our own teachers and select the learning tools that work best for us. In his book, Illich wrote,
School prepares for the institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.
Technology frees us from this institutional paradigm of education and lets us teach ourselves.
It can do the same for our children. As our own relationship to learning shifts in response to new technologies that make information and knowledge more accessible, we may begin to question the worn-out ways our children learn. As we realize the value and reward of self-education in our own lives, we’ll want to give this gift to our children.
Minimally Invasive Education
In his academic papers and award-winning 2013 TED Talk, Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra explains how children teach themselves without institutional schooling. His “hole in the wall” studies have been widely cited, showing how children from the poorest slums of India to elsewhere around the world are able to learn to read, to teach themselves English, and to understand advanced scientific content (like DNA replication) simply by having access to an Internet-enabled public computer.
Mitra calls this approach “minimally invasive education” and concludes in his talk:
If you allow the educational process to self-organize, then learning emerges. It’s not about making learning happen. It’s about letting it happen.
Thanks to technology, we adults now see this learning emerge all the time in our own lives. It can be the same for our children.
In the 21st century, the transportation industry was jolted again by technological innovation. Uber, Lyft, and other car-sharing companies challenged longstanding local monopolies, granting riders more choice and flexibility with better service and lower costs. Next, autonomous vehicles may be the new wave of disruptive innovation in transportation. Meanwhile, in education, technology will continue to expand access to resources, information, knowledge, and skills that make self-education outside of schooling not only possible but preferable.
Like the streetcar and horse-and-buggy, institutional schooling will become a cultural relic, a quaint reminder of yesteryear. We will realize that non-coercive, technology-enabled, self-directed education in collaboration with others results in better, more meaningful, more enduring learning than its institutional predecessors can offer. We will realize that we can be educated without being schooled. Indeed, the future is here.
The Civil War (1861-1865) was nothing less than a revolutionary reorganization of American government, society, and economics. It claimed almost as many lives as every other U.S. conflict combined and, by war’s bloody logic, forged the nation which the Founding Fathers could not by settling once and for all lingering national questions about state sovereignty and slavery.
The postwar period, however, was one of arguably greater turmoil than the war itself. This is because many men in the South did not, in fact, lay down their arms at the end of the War. What’s more, freedmen, former slaves that were now American citizens, had to take defensive measures against pro-Democratic Party partisans, the most famous of whom were the Ku Klux Klan.
What a strange allergic reaction from Comey, and others associated with US intelligence and counterintelligence operations, to US Attorney General William Barr’s simple statement before the US Senate: “Spying on a campaign is a big deal … I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated.”
Comey insists that the spying was indeed “adequately predicated,” and that for some reason this makes it not spying.
The same activity for which dozens of CIA assets have received the Intelligence Star medal, and for which 113 of them have their names inscribed on that agency’s “Memorial Wall.”
The same activity on which the US government spends untold billions per year, assuring us that it is not just good and moral and justifiable, but absolutely necessary to the defense of the United States.
Comey’s trying to have it both ways here.
On one hand, he justifies the spying based on claims that “Russia engaged in a massive effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” and that “we learned that one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers knew about the Russian effort seven weeks before we did.”
He defends the cloak-and dagger approach of the FBI’s espionage (“the practice of spying or using spies”) operation on the Trump campaign, saying that “if there was nothing to it, we didn’t want to smear Americans. If there was something to it, we didn’t want to let corrupt Americans know we were onto them. So, we kept it secret.”
On the other hand, he claims it wasn’t “spying” because … well, just because. “Non-fringe” media, he says doesn’t spend much time on this “conspiracy theory” because it’s just so wacky.
Comey’s sophistry doesn’t even rise to the level of Nixon Logic: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” His formulation is “if the FBI did it for a good reason, that means the FBI didn’t do it.”
The important question here is not whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. It did. Period.
The important question is why Comey doesn’t want to discuss, or even acknowledge, that fact.
The answer to that question is that discussing and acknowledging the irrefutable fact that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign leads into other discussions he finds even less desirable, such as whether the spying was legal — “adequately predicated” — and whether it was politically motivated (in a word, an attempted “coup”).
Why doesn’t Comey want those discussions? That question pretty much answers itself.