The Problem with Education: The Weekly Mentor



By Oliver DeMille

-1This is going to be short, because despite what many experts say the problem with modern education isn’t deep or complex.

The problem is that we’ve forgotten why we educate.

When the American founders adopted a system of education for all youth in the growing nation, and made it law through the Northwest Ordinance, they did it for a specific reason.

The reason was, as John Adams put it:

“Liberty cannot be preserved without
a general knowledge among the people.”

The founders wanted every child in the United States to get a good education, because they knew this one thing would be the most powerful influence on the future of freedom.

America benefited from this and grew in prosperity, power and global influence.

But somewhere along the way we lost our reason for educating.

In the 1930s, for example, the Left argued that schools should be used to promote more social justice, and the Right contended that the main focus of schools should be training young people for jobs and careers.

While both of these agendas have some merit, the loss of freedom as the central purpose of American schools has had a terrible impact on the voting public—and as a result, freedom is in decline.

In a nutshell, this is the problem with education today.

The good news is that the solution is actually quite clear.

As Orrin Woodward and I shared in our book LeaderShift, founding father Samuel Williams wrote in 1794:

“All the children are trained up to this kind of knowledge: they are accustomed from their earliest years to read the Holy Scriptures, the periodical publications, newspapers, and political pamphlets; to form some general acquaintance with the laws of their country, the proceedings of the courts of justice, of the general assembly of the state, and of the Congress, etc.

“Such a kind of education is common and universal in every part of the state: and nothing would be more dishonorable to the parents, or to the children, than to be without it.”

This quote tells parents and teachers, as well as school administrators and grandparents, exactly what we need to do.

If we do it, we will create another golden age of American education.

This is what made American education, and by extension America, great.

The further we move from this, the more American education declines.



Image Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd. He is the NY Times Bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.


  1. Kim Whiteside July 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    What are some periodicals and newspaper or websites that you would suggest then? Our newspaper is very liberal, and hardly worth reading anyway. I’d like to have options to share with my kids, especially my eldest (11.5), but I don’t know where to start. Thanks!

    • Oliver DeMille July 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      Hmmm, yeah, that’s a little tough, because the best ones are not really “beginner-friendly”, and the beginner-friendly ones are often not very valuable. Some periodicals and newspapers that I like include: Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy and The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. But I wouldn’t start with those. I’d start with a good study of The Five Thousand Year Leap, The Law by Bastiat, and The Mainspring of Human Progress by Weaver. After you’ve finished these, the periodicals will seem more accessible and relevant. In the meantime, in addition to the TJEd Weekly Mentor, I would suggest subscribing to the CSL Social Leader Weekly (free), which is basically an online periodical. Here is a recent article that actually addresses your question fairly well >>

  2. Gina August 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    My problem is that it frustrates and literally sickens me to read about politics and the state of our nation today let alone keep up with it well enough to help my children keep up with it! We can easily learn about our founding fathers and what government was meant to be, but does anyone else have a hard time teaching current events?

    Also, do you have any feedback or opinions on the Uncle Eric books by Richard Maybury?

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