My Advice to a High School Senior

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I received this letter.

May I start by saying that I am a big admirer of yours and it is an honor to be communicating with you. My name is [X], and I am a senior at [Y High School in central Pennsylvania. I have listened to many of your lectures on Youtube from the Mises Institute, and I'm a subscriber of your tip of the week email. My class is currently working on our senior project, and the assignment is to research what occupation we hope to have. I plan on majoring in history at George Mason University, although I do not plan on becoming a teacher in the traditional sense. I could not see myself working in a high school or college teaching what is mandated by the state. This possibility is abhorrent to me, and I hope to avoid it. A key part of this assignment is to conduct an interview. Since you have a degree in history, yet have not followed the typical path of a history major, I would like to ask you a few questions.

1. What occupation did you plan on having when you decided to major in history?

First, I decided as a freshman to major in political science. I changed my mind when I transferred from Pomona College to the University of California, Riverside, in the second semester of my freshman year. At that point, I decided I would rather major in economics. But my experience with one of the most appallingly bad teachers I have ever had, in which I got a D -- the only D I ever got in my life -- convinced me that taking classroom economics would be a waste of my time. I was correct.

I majored in history specifically because I was good at history, and I had been good history by that time for at least five years. I decided that the best way to get out of college was to get out as fast as I could, and as easily as I could. I knew how to write. I knew how to read carefully. I understood a lot about history. I was governed by this principle: the law of least resistance.

2. What made you not decide to become a college or high school teacher?

The reason why I decided not to become a college professor is that the Ph.D. glut hit in the spring of 1969, exactly as the experts had been predicting for the previous five years. There was almost no way that I could get a job teaching history at the college level. I decided that it would be ridiculous for me even to try, but I was under pressure from my father-in-law to get my Ph.D., so I figured I might as well do it. I got scholarship money to do it. I got a teaching assistant’s job to do it. In retrospect, it probably was a good idea, because a lot of people think that somebody who is called “Dr.” must know something, and that helps build subscriptions. But that was not my plan in 1969.

3. What are some of the benefits of being able to teach people, without having to have the restriction of working in a brick and mortar institution?

The main benefit of teaching on the Web is simple: it is free of charge. The price is right! You can post a video on YouTube in a matter of a few minutes. You can produce a 30-minute video, if you know your topic, in less than two hours. I do this at least twice a day. My videos are posted on the Ron Paul Curriculum site.

Here are some excellent examples of historical videos that have been posted on YouTube. They are better than almost anything you will find. They were not produced by somebody with a Ph.D.

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