Episode 186 - Thomas Bogle, "Helping Teachers to Become Free Market Educators"
Thomas Bogle is an independent educator teaching courses in economics, entrepreneurship, and political philosophy. He and his wife are both former certified public school teachers who choose to homeschool their seven children. After seven years teaching in the public school system, Thomas left public education to develop the Free Market Educators Association, a professional development organization for freelance educators working outside traditional learning institutions. He is also a program advisor for Praxis and a member of the Foundation for Economic Education Faculty Network.
"The only difference here (with Free Market Education) is that now you have to actually convince kids not just that the class is going to be fun but it is going to be valuable for them, because you're asking them to put money on the line. You're asking them to actually buy into your class. So the first thing is just to convince educators that they're already doing this, they just don't realize that they're doing it because they don't see the money changing hands. The money is already changing hands they just don't see it. The second thing is yet getting them to think with that mindset. This is really one that changes educational philosophies a lot, is when you have to try to treat your students as customers. "I had a piece at a Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) published on if students aren't the customers, then they are essentially the product being sold. Like "Facebook users," "Twitter users" I'm sorry but if you're a "user" of a free service you are the product that's being sold, it's advertising dollars." In the public school system students are that the products of the public school system, they're the product that we're selling, and we're selling them for for political profit." "It (disdain for free market education) really is engrained in an our teacher training colleges. So I'm trying to at least offer some services to counter that. To show that teachers, "yeah, you really need to set up a personal website." Not just one where you show your homework assignment for tonight. [The website] is a place for you to showcase who you are as a person, what you contribute to the field professionally, personally, give the student and parent testimonials. This is your website as a marketing tool. A lot of teachers don't think of it that way, your social media presence. Teachers must have a social media presence." "Motivation has a huge impact on learning and on how willing they are to do the different activities or to dive themselves into some of the learning activities that we would do. Whereas the students in these homeschool co-ops, I won't say all of them really wanted to be there. There were some students where the parents signed them up. But usually in a situation like that, I would simply reach out to the parents and say, "if they really don't want to be there, it's kind of detrimental to their learning" and the parents would understand pulling out of the course. So the vast majority of students actually wanted to be there, they wanted to learn, they wanted to be engaged in the activities that we were doing." "The changing the mentality of, instead of thinking of students as, "Hey you're here, I'm in charge, I'm gonna tell you what to do." Thinking of myself as a producer of educational services. Thinking of my students and their parents as my customers, where I have to deliver value. Not some future, hidden, "someday you're gonna need to know this." I have to deliver value to them now, I have to explain to you, right now, why you need to know the Pythagorean theorem today."
"What I'm trying to do is...take the teachers and say, "teachers this institution is failing you and your market is leaving, if you want to continue having an impact on these kids' lives, you need to get yourself out of these institutions." Stop supplying this public service, because it's not a service. In so doing it and actually trying to convince teachers that it's not very beneficial for them to be in the public school system, it will actually make it easier for them to make a living working outside of it." "I have long been a believer in the phrase, "criticize by creating" where if I'm going to spend my time to sit and look at a problem that exist and then just complain about it, that's pointless, it's a waste of time, and it just drags everyone down, myself included. If I see a problem I ought to start building a solution to that problem. So for me, sitting back looking at public education mired in its own political problems, my long-term objectives are to build the institutions and the networks and the frameworks they will eventually completely replace the education model that we've adopted not just in this country but in most of the world."
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