Teaching Rand to Teens

Posted by CEGamache 5 months, 1 week ago to Education
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I am currently down a rabbit-hole re-reading Rand's works (again), and looking for ideas. I plan to use "Anthem" again next year in a rotating book-study with my 10th grade students, and was hoping someone here might have some pointers on getting students to engage with the philosophy, and not just the story. When I read "Anthem" in high school, it was an eye-opening and mind-changing experience. I dove into everything else I could find. But, I don't see that in my students... It doesn't seem to speak to them in the way that it did me. It doesn't fill them with an awe and understanding of the triumph of the human spirit... to them, it is just another book that I am geeking-out over. How do I get teens to engage in a deep-dive of the philosophy, and in some meaningful introspection about their own moral philosophy?

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  • Posted by edweaver 5 months, 1 week ago
    Now, that's the million dollar question. Personally, I don't think there is a one size fits all answer. Each student is different and therefore will need a different approach. What that approach is can only be answered by each student. I think your challenge is drawing that answer out of them. No easy task and one where 100% success may be an impossible feat. But at the same time, a very worthy challenge. I'm happy you are trying.
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    • Posted by $ Commander 5 months, 1 week ago
      The only "one size fits" I have found is creating an environment of enthusiasm. My dad, teacher, had a knack for this. And because he broke convention with the status-quo was fired 3 times in his 37 year career. The first time was very near you....Kee HIgh in Lansing...1972. He was teaching vocabulary using Scrabble...OMG!
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      • Posted by edweaver 5 months, 1 week ago
        You both sound like great teachers! Glad to have some and I agree!
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        • Posted by $ Commander 5 months, 1 week ago
          I have no degrees, certifications or class room time. Of a 35 year vocation in manufacturing I have found I am always an educator and an "accidental" philosopher. The latter manifested on the streets in So Mpls until I moved this spring. Already have an interested group of youngsters, age 12 to 24, in Manitowoc. I've also engaged 7 educators to explore teaching basics of philosophy at ages 6 to 7....just fundamentals of what we are as living organisms and how we relate to each other as individuals and in groups.
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  • Posted by $ Commander 5 months, 1 week ago
    Welcome to the Gulch. After Anthem I would recommend The Objectivist's Ethics. This is a 20+ page essay from 1961 that delivers the reasoning and necessity for values in human interactions.

    Anthem can be personalized for the student in comparison to their compulsory schooling. The Objectivist's Ethics is the reasoning philosophy behind freedom, liberty, responsibility and happiness.

    For your preparation i would also recommend John Gatto: Dumbing Us Down.
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    • Posted by 5 months ago
      I had never heard of "Dumbing us Down" specifically, but have used other (shorter) items with the same message. I, and any and all of my exceptional and independent-thinking students recognize that the schooling system has in-fact attempted to dumb-us-down or hold-us-back in the interest of "letting other students catch up." They feel even more robbed after this discussion.
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      • Posted by $ Commander 5 months ago
        Chapter 1; The Seven Lesson School Teacher; I teach: confusion, class position, indifference, emotional dependency, intellectual dependency, provisional self-esteem and one can't hide. Pretty gruesome yet addressable.

        Everything we experience is a cycle of relationships and choices. From Dad: A process of awareness, involvement, commitment, insight, wisdom that leads back to the awareness.....

        I find the kids can express "emotional discomfort" easily. Helping them to bring the emotional state into reason-abled iteration is a process. What I do teach, from their position, "I am (upset, angry, confused, happy) and I require "Your" (insert adult) insight, experience, etc. to help me express what I am feeling". If an adult can't or won't .....find another with better insight and never stop pushing.
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  • Posted by j_IR1776wg 5 months, 1 week ago
    Challenge them to use their native ability to reason (think)

    Encourage them to learn, use, and love the English language as the primary tool of reason. Also, Aristotle’s Organon (Logic)

    Praise their output. Allow them to fail. And learn from their failures.

    Show them how to recognize the fallacies or errors in their reasoning and in other’s arguments – Critical Thinking
    Read or re-read the works and ideas of Maria Montessori, Marva Collins, and Ayn Rand.

    Make learning fun.
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  • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 months, 1 week ago
    For philosophical definition, try this.

    Nanotechnology Ethics Exercise
    Florida Institute of Technology
    CHE/CHM 1091 - Nanotechnology Lab 1 class

    Read this entire document before answering any questions. You will be asked to write your answers to the following by 4/27/2020 at 6 PM. At that time, we will discuss your responses. Constructive criticism will be encouraged during our Zoom meeting.

    Charles Lieber, the recently deposed head of the Department of Chemistry at Harvard University, is one of the most acclaimed nanotechnologists in world history. He wrote many successful proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Defense (DOD). Expectations of those funding agencies include publishing findings in prestigious journals and presentations at conferences. Since these funding agencies distribute government-collected tax dollars, the government expects to be a partner in any intellectual property (IP) that may be developed.

    Prof. Lieber pioneered the field of nanowires and, as part of that, developed a nanowire sensor array for detection of a range of pathogens at around the time of the SARS virus outbreak. To develop that technology, Lieber signed a DOD document that stated that he would protect both intellectual and physical property developed as part of his group's work from being used by enemies of the United States of America against us.

    It is standard practice for professors to hire students and postdocs from all over the world to carry out their research work. While DOD funding and some NSF and NIH funding require that funding be only spent on U.S. citizens, most professors obtain money from government agencies and/or private entities to fund some non-U.S. members of their research groups.

    Several years ago, the Chinese government offered Prof. Lieber and several other prominent nanotechnology researches an offer to become members of the Thousand Talents Program, with much higher base salaries and other compensation as well as no need to apply for future research funding. Lieber took that offer without notifying Harvard or the U.S. government. As part of the deal, Lieber was put in charge of a research institute within the Wuhan Institute of Technology. This was the first and only institute in China designed to handle viruses as virulent as COVID-19, SARS, Ebola, etc. Without making any judgment on Prof. Lieber personally or whether the release of COVID-19 was accidental or intentional, I refer you to the following:


    1) Metaphysics refers to one's view of reality. How do you define "reality"? What is your view of reality? How do you define "facts"? What is your view of "facts"? Are those views dependent on or independent of your feelings, wishes, hopes, and/or fears?

    2) Epistemology refers to "How, or on what basis, do you know what you know?". What do you, in fact, know, and how do you know it? What assumptions, if any, are you making in coming to such conclusions?

    3) If either Prof. Lieber and/or one or more of his former students and/or postdocs wanted to start a company based off of the nanowire sensor array detection of pathogen technology, what constraints would such a company operate under a) if they were privately funded and purchased the IP from Harvard and the U.S. government; and separately b), if they went to China or some other country to start such a company?

    4) What conditions and/or constraints are you willing to agree to in order to pursue a) research and training under a mentor; b) working for a for-profit company; and c) start a company as a founder or co-founder. Realize that you will probably will not be able to afford some of your goals without any funding at any point whatsoever.

    5) What conditions and/or constraints are you NOT willing to agree to in order to pursue a) research and training under a mentor; b) working for a for-profit company; and c) start a company as a founder or co-founder.

    6) The previous questions have helped you establish your ethics/morality. Summarize your views on laws and government. Consider how different local, state, national, and international government and non-governmental entities (such as the World Health Organization) have attempted to control the behavior of individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. What opportunities did the COVID-19 outbreak generate, and what opportunities have been lost as a result of the outbreak? How does one take advantage of the new opportunities?

    7) It is entirely likely that the COVID-19 outbreak started from a building that Prof. Lieber was the director of, whether it was unintentional or not. Put yourself in Lieber's position at various stages of his career, and delineate what you would have done to achieve your career goals and convert your ideas into a viable product.
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