I Retract Comments I Made About the Intelligence and Scholarly Motivation of High School Students

I fear I lead my readers astray with underestimates I made about the intelligence and scholarly motivation of high school students in this blog of mine:

I offer several letters from readers correcting me on this matter, followed by my reaction to them:

From: ME

Walter, You neglect the context within which numbers and words are taught in the early grades. For example, consider this elementary subtraction example: “The fair price of an apple is $1. If John charges $3 per apple, how much above the fair price is John charging?” The Austrian context: “John is asking for $3 per apple. Fred hopes to pay $1, yet since he believe the apple will satisfy his hunger, he agrees to pay $3. How much more is Fred paying above his initial hope?”
Similarly reading lessons teach good or bad economics. Any ideas, no matter how complex, can be taught in a rudimentary form to young children. Even pre-school children imbibe misinformation about money, profit, and capitalism. Warm regards, ME

From BW:

Dear Walter, At LRC, you write:” I really don’t see much scope for Austrian economics in high school, let alone before that. I think K-12 should be devoted to reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, and little else.” Reading, writing and arithmetic are surely important but by junior high students’ minds are much more curious than you may think. I can recall reading Murray Rothbard’s “What Has Government Done to Our Money?” while I was in 7th grade. I started working my way through Human Action when I was a freshman in High School. Indeed, I remember Gary North giving a lecture in Boston before I was old enough to get a government driver license and getting my father to drive me into the city to the event. Despite usually working 1 or 2 part-time jobs in addition to school, I found that period was one of the most fruitful for absorbing and retaining what I learned. This summer a friend asked me to tutor in economics his 2 high school students, a freshman and senior. I found them both able to absorb material. They were very curious and had plenty of questions. Certainly, a sharp seventh grader could work his way through the important first 100 pages of Peter and Andrew Schiff’s How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes . And a high school senior should certainly read Tom DiLorenzo’s The Problem With Socialism before heading off to college. I also want to add that current high school students, judging from what I saw of the 2 students I tutored, are being inundated with anti-capitalist propaganda in school. They need some counter pro free market perspectives as soon as possible.
Finally, I think a big problem in libertarianism today is youth who roughly grasp the concept of libertarianism but do not do deep reading and think they understand all. We need to be encouraging more reading of Mises, Rothbard, Hayek and Block, not less. The basics of reading writing and arithmetic are extremely important but I would think by junior high school it is not an onerous task for the sharp, curious student to study beyond the basics, not lightening the study of the basics but in addition to studying them, Best regards, BW

From TT:

I have taught to high school students all of these below: The law, Econ In One Lesson, Defending The undefendable, all of Thomas woods books, The left the right and the state, capitalism vs fascism, What has the gov done to our money, ethics of liberty, for a new liberty, conceived in liberty, the history of money and banking, the real Lincoln, Hamiltons Curse, How capitalism saved America, ten or so Walter Block Books, Epj, Target Liberty, fff,, videos, podcasts from Lew Rockwell, Woods, and more. That is off the top of my head. Btw I start with teaching the NAP. How can I forget I use the Revolution by Ron Paul all the time too. Best wishes, TT

Dear ME, BW TT and other readers: Thanks for your criticisms. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. I misspoke. I was wrong. You and numerous others have to 180 degrees changed my mind on this matter. I think I was having a Gary Johnson Aleppo moment, or a brain cramp. Or something. I was extrapolating way too much from when I myself was in high school. My thoughts were then 99% on sports and girls. My grade point average in high school was something like 87%, and you needed to get a 90% to get in Arista, our scholastic honor society. Thanks for correcting me on this assessment of mine on the intellectual capacity of high school kids, and at least that of some of those even younger.


9:36 pm on October 8, 2016