The Ghost Of Albert Jay Nock

By:  Bob Schaffer, LPR Chairman

LPR Chairman’s Column 10.17.13

Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel was decorated for Fall on October 11th as another LPR class convened there for the inaugural lesson.  The ghost of Albert Jay Nock paced the back of the room and seemed pleased.

How many LPR grads remember and cherish the maiden lesson?  Dr. Tom Krannawitter’s powerful lecture on the American Revolution and the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence is vivid in the minds of everyone who’s ever heard it.

The first discussion by Michael Williams about the elegance of capitalism leaves everyone anxious to know the rest of the story.  The thick stack of works by Rand, Hazlitt, the Federalists, et al, seems daunting when first handed to each student; but now everyone’s eager to read ahead.

In 1931, Nock, a philosopher, was invited to the University of Virginia to deliver a series of lectures about emerging trends in public education.  He warned of the perilous downsides to the popular Romantic movement sweeping American schools.  Now entrenched in every state’s teacher colleges, the movement’s legacy has mass produced academic casualties from coast to coast.

Inspired by philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Heinrich Pestalozzi, Friedrich Froebel, and John Dewey, the transformation of American public schools was bolting rapidly away from classical education, toward mere training.  Just as Nock had foretold in his lectures, few Americans are today educated well enough to lead in the style of America’s Founding Fathers.

They were classically educated.  Their minds set themselves, their families and ultimately their countrymen free.

Their command of Latin and Greek traditions inspired more than just precise language.  Their intellect empowered them to capitalize on the essence of human nature, and to focus the unabridged lessons of Western history upon their crucial moment.

They articulated the true meaning of political and economic freedom, of Liberty.  More importantly, they agreed on these terms – not as a matter of democratic consensus, but as functions of intellectual honesty, truth, beauty, perfection, and goodness.

Krannawitter, Williams, and the LPR curriculum acquaint us with politics, economics and philosophy from the classical, moral perspectives of Americas Founding Fathers.  For those trained in American schools – in the convention of Progressive-Romantic pedagogy – absorbing the prescience of the Founders is an actual epiphany.

Nock’s predictions about the inadequacy of Romantic education to produce noble American leaders have tragically come true.  Yet, this is why LPR is in business today, and why the program is more important than ever.

It’s why Nock’s ghost cheers.