“Issues in Education” by Ayn Rand


this evening’s discussion will concern education its theory and practice in today’s society miss Rand let me lead off with a rather basic question and ask you what is education well to answer your very briefly education strictly speaking means the the development of a man’s mind to fit him to deal with the facts of reality now let me develop as a little further we observe in all living species not only in men that the young have to be taught by their elders and taught specifically their means of survival if you have ever watched Birds or cats you will observe that the mother teaches the kittens to hunt or the birds to fly in each species the parents teach the young those particular skills which they require as their main means of survival at least it just through of the higher animal species now in the case of man man’s basic tool of survival is his mind what men need in order to deal with the fact of facts of reality in order to survive what man needs is knowledge of the facts he can acquire knowledge only by means of reason by means of his rational faculty therefore in order to be a full adult in order to be able to survive to stand on his own man needs two things one and knowledge of the fact at least up to the point acquired by his elders and to more importantly the knowledge of how to use his mind in order to acquire more facts man is the only species that has the capacity to transmit knowledge from generation to generation animals can only repeat the same given skills and cannot transmit knowledge man can therefore the great advantage of education is that a young man can be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered by all the generations preceding him and can them carry it further he can then discover further knowledge on the basis of that which is already known already discovered that is how human progress is achieved but the crucial question here is how does men acquire knowledge that process is not automatic men do not automatically by instinct know how to learn they do not automatically know what is true or false they do not know how to validate their conclusions and their judgment how to make their conclusions consonant with the facts of reality in other words the ability to acquire knowledge to reason to think is not innate and automatic man is born only with the capacity to think and to learn but he has to discover how to use that capacity he has to discover the laws of logic the rules by which he can validate his knowledge and determine what is true and what is false that is the primary purpose of Education education has to give a man certain fundamental facts known before him so that he does not have to stay a start from scratch like a savage in the jungle and education has to give him the advantage of all the knowledge at least the essential knowledge acquired by mankind before him but above all education has to give him the knowledge of how to use his mind how to acquire knowledge how to carry it further when a man leaves a university he should know two things the essentials in the particular field in which he is majoring and above all the ability to discover further knowledge he should have been taught how to use his mind how to think how to pursue rational research and I must add that that is precisely the point on which mother education has failed dismally today’s education is achieving the exact opposite not only it doesn’t does it not provide men with basic facts but it is devised almost as if it were on purpose it is devised to stop to negate to restrict to paralyze man’s thinking ability if today’s young people are not neurotic when they enter a university they have a very good chance of becoming a neurotic when they leave because the entire anti rational ontological trend of today’s philosophy and philosophy of education is devised to paralyze a man’s mind thank you very much miss Rand also weather this with us this evening our Kent Q know the staff of WK CR Norman Fox a student at the school of general studies and Arthur Gandalf a student at Columbia College mr. ku no miss Rand would an Objectivist read such philosophers as Kant mark and Camus since they do not deal with reality well now would an Objectivist read do you mean to imply that objectivism has a prescribed list of books which they must not read something like the Catholic Church has a prescribed list certainly an Objectivist would read anything depending on his purpose in reading it there is no rule about what an Objectivist or any rational man should or should not read it depends on his purpose if an Objectivist is interested in philosophy and in the study of ideas the development the history of ideas then he certainly would read these writers particularly Kant who is a normally significant significant a negative way as a destroyer of Reason if you want to learn some of the worst philosophical ideas and the consequence which they have had them Kant is the first one that you should heed on the negative side everything is important because you can learn a great deal about philosophical questions and about the kind of distorted answers that have been given the kind of pitfalls that exist in dealing with neurological issues and Kant is the most skillful of all the festivals of his in taking advantage of philosophical pitfalls and corrupting men drinking more than any single other philosopher now Marx is not really a philosopher he has importance only in the sense that he’s had a great political influence on the present century but the few centuries from now he will only be historical reality he is not no great philosophical significance neither is commune he is a minor philosophize er this is not a major philosopher Kant however is the Gandalf a the shrine would cause the flight from reason a great many reasons but the cause is right in your question the flight from reason was a result of philosophy and it is philosophy that went that way what caused it great many things but if you ask me to name one particular aspect of wife philosophy has so consistently kept escaping from reason I would say that the cause there is ethics so long as in ethics in morality men were dominated by the altruist premise so long as the dominant ethics of mankind was altruism it had to lead to irrationalism in metaphysics and epistemology altruism could be accepted only by an act of mystic face no philosopher has ever been able to justify or validate altruism in reason and it is here that Kant is very significant Kant is the most influential philosopher today and even the schools today that allege to oppose him are actually variants of Canton isms they have accepted one or another of cans basic premises and carried it to its logical extreme now can’t admit it openly why he was interested in philosophy and what was the purpose set in advance of his philosophical system he wanted to save the morality of altruism from the danger represented by reason he said so this is not just an implication it is his explicit statement that if reason in effect were allowed to triumph in philosophy the morality of altruism would perish because it is indefensible in reason and therefore Kant had to devise a philosophical system that would support the outrace morality he could do so only by invalidating reason which she succeeded in doing better than any other to ossifer to keep you accept his system if you wanted to undercut the validity of reason then Kant is the most expert the most tricky and cunning way of accomplishing you accept that of course it cannot be accomplished but as near to it as anyone has come Kant would be the champion in that respect but to answer your question as you stated that mains are not the exclusive cause of the revolt against reason is meant that hiren to the morality of altruism mr. Fox miss Rand in what ways can the development of independence in a mature person be aided in his grade school education and his great school yes in his younger years how can his independence be at a that you say in intellectual independence by several means the main one in the opposite to so-called progressive education is that a young person in order to be taught to think has to be given facts a young person above all should be taught basic absolute facts not taught to play and could express himself before he has learned anything he has to be introduced to knowledge by being presented with facts and the fact must not be given to him as arbitrary Dogma they have to be demonstrated facts presented to a child should be presented as if you were giving them to a philosopher namely was full evidence with full proof facts must never be given as an arbitrary assertion but a child within the context of his knowledge and within the context of what he can deal with mentally should be given facts and the evidence of that fact if a teacher make any assertions you should prove his case you should say why he is asserting this or that so that the child should be trained in how to distinguish fact from him hypothesis or fact from belief and should be given the rudiments the first steps of how to ask the appropriate questions how to validate what he accepts as a fact that I would introduce logic in high school and possibly in elementary form without naming it by name even in grade school I would certainly require that all teachers should be logical experts and that they should never be guilty of contradictions fallacies and confusions in dealing with great school pupils because disasters are caused on that level by the teachers arbitrary assertions and contradictions mister keuner Mitterrand in your opening statement you spoke of the laws of logic could you tell us what those laws are well there’s this the three classical laws it’s really one was to colorize the law of identity which claims that a is a and two derivatives the law of excluded middle which is known as either/or and the law of contradiction which claims that a cannot be non a at the same time in the same respect other said the three laws of life formulated by startled there are many smaller derivatives or curls but there are merely applications these recover the base of logic this man is it ever fair to indoctrinate particularly in the formative years what do you mean by induction it well I’m thinking particularly of some examples in America when for example the American Legion has said that Americanism should be taught in the classes or something of that nature to give the children who perhaps don’t know any better an idea of the American system well that depends what is meant here because induction it is a very very loose term if your question is should the children be taught American history I would say yes certainly should they be taught that history objectively that is in a non slanted manner but presented in essentials and in a manner which the teacher could justify logically then I would say yes certain diseases in education not indoctrination if however you mean should a slanted presentation according to someone’s interpretive viewpoint be introduced and I would say no certainly not however it is very important here for the teacher to know and therefore to teach and communicate to the children the difference between interpretation and facts it would be quite proper for a teacher to present his interpretation if he labels it as that and to tell the children what he bases it on that is also quite proper interpretation is part of the teacher’s jobs provided which is objective provided he does it does not offer interpretation aspect mr. Gandalf a a friend do you agree with many civil rights leaders that integrated schools are essential ingredient in any educational system no I do not because the issue of civil rights is not settled in schools that is not where it begins and you do not make children the pawns of a political game the issue of civil rights is a political issue it is an issue of right and therefore it has to start on the level of defining and fighting for and protecting individual rights of all men which of course would include minorities because as I have said many times the smallest minority honors is the individual but today’s integration leaders are undercutting the justice of their cause and consequently losing it when they claim that in order to protect or assert their own rights they have to violate the rights of others if they want to violate the rights of majorities not only do they lose any moral ground for their own battle but it won’t be long before they will lose their rights when you violate anybody’s rights you violate the rights of all because a society cannot respect the principle of individual rights in part or occasionally and violated on other occasions now certainly segregation by state government or any government is unconstitutional contradictory to our American principles and evil is more morally evil and that can be easily demonstrated because if men have individual rights then every human being has them equally regardless of his birth color or ability however when the integration leaders want to force children from various neighborhood to mix only for the purpose of having them sit in the same classroom it to begin with it is racism it doesn’t matter whether you make children race-conscious for the purposes of integration or segregation the principle is the same you do not assign children to school on the ground of race point one point two it is totally futile because merely having a mixed schoolroom is not going to make those children respect each other’s rights which is not going to teach them individualism or the rights of men it will only create more racial friction and resentment because the children are forced into that position nothing which is not voluntary is going to solve a moral problem therefore I would agree with the civil rights movement in everything that they claim against the right of government federal or state to enforce segregation by law a government has no right to discriminate against any citizens but for all the same reasons I am against the civil rights leaders when they claim the right or privilege to end force I’m just aggregating laws on private citizens such as the bill now before Congress to forbid discrimination in private establishment you cannot legislate morality you are infringing the rights of some men for the benefit of others which means your abrogating the principle of right when you do that segregation or race prejudice is certainly evil but then like any moral issue it has to be fought by private individual moral means in this case one should fight against segregation by economic boycott and social ostracism let those white people who do not believe in racism a boycott all those institutions private or public the public ones shouldn’t be segregated but if a private race is wants a segregated establishment let all the white people who believe in equality of rights boycott them voluntarily and individually that will destroy segregation much quicker than anything else will but above all I want to stress the fact that forcing any moral issue by law is a denial of legality and morality remembers is that freedom does not mean only the freedom to do right it also means the freedom to be wrong and to be mistaken provided you don’t force your errors anyone there for you all understand and so with all modern liberals understand why we have to defend the Communists freedom of speech even though his ideas are evil we don’t have to agree with him we don’t have to listen to him we don’t have to give him the means of spreading his ideas but we have to leave him free to express them if he wants to in the same way we have to allow a racist to express his ideas on his own property if he want to be a segregationist it’s evil and we have to fight him by moral means but we cannot violate his right we have to protect his right to be wrong on his other prop on his own property we don’t have to deal with him miss Ryan I was thinking particularly of certain groomers would you wish that shouldn’t be educated among in their own culture for instance the Catholics would like their or their children to attend Catholic schools or a certain met Menard national minority would like their children to attend their own particular schools they need the language and the customs of that people do you feel this is robbing a child of something no that is the privilege of the parent nobody has the right to prescribe how a child should be educated the premise that the government or the public opinion should prescribe what is right for a child but and prescribed by law is a normally improper and proceed from the wrong premise it is a parent responsibility and privilege to decide how a child should be educated now it is of course the privilege of all of us to express philosophical ideas on education and one could tell such parents that it is improper to educate a child in a viewpoint which we consider wrong but that’s a different issue it does not mean that we have to forbid the parents to educate the child in their own beliefs we will have to fight the battle on the philosophical level that is if you consider the Catholic or any other minority viewpoint one you can object to that viewpoint by means of Education enlightening discussion you cannot fight it on the level of school you cannot forbid a Catholic parent to educate his children in a Catholic school if he wants to if it’s a private school that is his privilege mr. and at what point does the parent right to choose the method of education of the child end that is no such end because how are you going to define well at what point would be would it be possible for the child to be able to choose for himself you mentioned that the no one can dictate to the parents of a child what the method of education should be at what point is this dictation of the parents let’s say and legally at the age of twenty-one perhaps 18 according to whichever is the legal age of adulthood but if you are speaking morally the parents don’t have that power even at the age of five in other words the child is not free to escape and to go to another school but if a child goes to a school which gives him only very limited slanted information such as a school of a particular religion that education will not take no education can condition a child’s mind to such an extent that he’s unable to think for himself the worst type of education all that it can do is delay the child’s progress instead of helping him a proper education would help a child to develop but again there is no guarantee here the best education in the world will not force a child to think if he doesn’t want to and in the same way the worst education in the world will not cripple a child’s mind entirely it will only bore him and it will delay his progress but he can overcome it if he uses his mind at all and in this sense I would like to ask you aren’t you all victims to certain extent at least I want a chance of say that I sympathize with you enormous ly that today’s education if students learn anything at all or come out of college was something more than they went in it is only due to their own critical judgment and to the extent to which they listen in class critically and accept and reject instead of blindly accepting the dogma of each individual professor and you all are in under a terrible handicap today because I assume I’m permitted to say that today’s college education is in a dreadful Kel’s the worst of which is that every schoolroom you enter you are subjected to a different epistemology there is not a single basic epistemology accepted as the proper one by any university or College and therefore the method of thinking of using his mind differs from man to man and just as you would should have been helped with a proper oral epistemology just as you are ready to form it because you are in precisely the formative years when a man established his thinking at this technology instead of being helped you our constant is subjected to cares you adjust or begin to hope that you understand one professor and the next across from you enter you are on totally different premises none of them have a clear-cut system and all of them contradict each other now of course there are exceptions and I hope that perhaps there are more here than in other universities but there isn’t a university today who is exempt from that kind of trouble and the only thing that any student can do is precisely what I mentioned exercise your critical judgment do not think that you are in a religious school that is do not accept as Dogma whichever your professors say and above all do not take the blame on yourself if you do not understand the professor this is the one advice that I am very eager to give to all college students the modern Canton and post Canton epistemology is devised to give you an inferiority complex namely it is so irrational and so unclear that a conscientious boy listening to it very often takes the blame on himself what happens is as follows you might sit in class and you do not understand what the professor is saying but you look around you and everybody seems to be listening and you begin to sing well you’re the only one who doesn’t understand everybody else seems to therefore the fault is yours but everybody else is sitting and looking around was the same spot in mind I see by your smile and that is what I’d like to warn you against and if I can help you at all this would be probably the most important advice I can suggest do not assume that others understand when you don’t and do not assume that the professor understands or intends to since understanding is not part of today’s basic premises certainly not in education and certainly not in most cases therefore when you do not understand do not take the blame use your mind as much as you can try to understand but when you begin to be convinced that your professor is guilty of contradictions then note that face packed very carefully and do not begin to doubt the efficacy of your own mind just pass the exam as quickly as you can and go to another professor I think on that piece of advice will close this program this evenings discussion concerned education its theory and practice in today’s society thank you gentlemen and thank you Miss Ron

20 thoughts on ““Issues in Education” by Ayn Rand”

  1. I just read 'Anthem' again. We look around and see so many parallels today…as scary as Atlas shrugged….Ayn had a great mind and observed the dangers of a society under assault by a corrupt political/media/ educational- indoctrination system .. We have been betrayed for over 100 years…one small, subtle step at a time.

  2. This is so true, the things I did outside of school did SO much more to develop my thinking abilities than anything I ever learnt in school. The amount of people with degrees that are considered 'smart' by society but actually have incredibly bad critical thinking skills is staggering.

  3. Take that and apply to what's happening in north America university teachings the students of the new norm of socialism as a better ways for society to live today's. It make me sick of the young mindset.

  4. "That process is not automatic" is the reason that university used to provide each student many lenses with which to view the universe. Unfortunately today's SJW's have been denied these capacities and indoctrinated into collectivism.

  5. I have listened to this interview probably 100 times over the last 10 years. It is like she is telling my brain what it always wanted to tell me, but was unable to.

  6. Thankyou Ayn Rand for so much. You opened my mind to philosophy, reality, objectivity, reason, self worth, everything…I can’t ever thank you so much..you gave me my life.

  7. I cant believe how terribly relevant her teachings are to today, and i fear we are headed to a complete and total socialist society in which america will inevitably fail

  8. Teachers should transcribe this entire talk and ask serious questions about their own districts, schools, and classrooms.

  9. She predicted the future failure of education. What a wonderful mind and I thank you for showing me the way Ayn Rand.

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