Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Higher Education, Part I

There’s yet another free course available online from Hillsdale College: Economics101: The Principles of Free Market Economics. This is in addition to a growing assortment of online courses I’ve been enjoying the last couple of years:
·         Introduction to the Constitution
·         Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution
·         Constitution 201: The Progressive Rejection of the Founding and the Rise of Bureaucratic Despotism
·         History 101—Western Heritage: From the Book of Genesis to John Locke
·         History 102—American Heritage: From Colonial Settlement to the Reagan Revolution
Hillsdale College
You could additionally enjoy the weekly radio series, Hillsdale Dialogues: A Survey of Great Books, Great Men, and Great Ideas, which is an hour-long discussion between Hillsdale President Larry Arnn and radio host Hugh Hewitt. All are archived, in case you miss them live.
Hillsdale online also provides the Kirby Center Lecture Series Archive. And there’s a Hillsdale College YouTube channel.
All of the above are free.  The courses are essentially the same courses, including readings, lectures, and discussions, as for students on campus. You can attend as given, keeping up with the coursework. Or you can do whatever part you want, at your convenience. Even if you do nothing more than listen to the lectures, you’ll be getting a lot. But the reading is also very worthwhile. And if you do it as given, you can participate in the Q&A followup to the lecture.
The Econ 101 class started a last week, September 23rd, with a new lecture once a week, and the Q&A a few days later. So if you sign up right away, you can keep current. In the first week’s Q&A, there was some discussion of Scottish author Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Its publication coincided with the Declaration of Independence, 1776. That means the ideas were out there by our nation’s founding, but the book couldn’t have been widely read yet. However, by the 1790s the book showed up in 28% of libraries in this country. It was one of the pieces of common literature our founders were familiar with by the time they wrote the Constitution.
You can of course make a donation any time, although none is ever required. For a $50 donation, in conjunction with the Econ101 course, you can receive a copy of The Capitalist Manifesto. (If $50 is too much, you can get that book at Amazon for much less, but without the good feeling of supporting the Hillsdale educating-the-world mission.)
If you’re one of those people who have just started to awake to the need to pay attention to politics and current events—because of the tragedies of our times—and you want to educate yourself, these Hillsdale courses are an excellent starting place.
If you’re homeschooling teens, and you want to give them challenging work—something you’re willing to study along with them—these courses are a great resource. And they have the benefit of preparing your student for the kind of thinking required of them at a good college.
I don’t mean for this to be simply an ad for Hillsdale. I have been thinking specifically about higher education, and higher education costs, since the president’s speech on the subject in late August.
There is more I have to say on the president’s plans, which have slipped into obscurity during discussions of Syria, Obamacare funding, and debt ceilings.
In these posts I’ll cover the increasing free/low cost resources online for higher education. Then we’ll look at these questions:
·         What is the connection between higher learning and higher debt?
·         Is government best suited for taking on the rising cost of college education?

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