Logical Learning Services

Course Overview

This course is basically one that I would have loved to participate in when I was an adolescent. I believe every young person at one time or another searches for answers to the big life questions—for example: Who am I? What is reality? By what means do I know this? How should I make sense of things? How should I live my life? How do I make sense of others, especially of society and the adult world? How do I become confident and happy? and so on.

When I encountered the writings of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden after my first college degree, the answers to these profound questions became more clear. During the several years since then, I have studied the various principles of Objectivism (the name of Rand’s philosophy) and refined some of their applications. My book, The Psychology of Liberty, is one major outcome of these efforts.

My first and second academic degrees were obtained from Idaho State University. I graduated with a BBA in management and minor in philosophy in 1992. I earned a BS in psychology (with highest honors) in 1996. I lived mainly in Idaho until about eight years ago, when I moved to San Diego.

In 1999 I received a Master of Arts in counseling psychology (also with highest honors) from United States International University in San Diego (recently renamed Alliant International University). The periods surrounding my academic time were dedicated to working in the construction, mining, and demolition trades. This I viewed as a valuable counterbalance to my intellectual activities (not unlike the ranch work I did in my younger years). The ability to deal with reality in practical ways can assist one in putting intellectual ideas into proper perspective, as well as distilling valuable principles.

My basic intention with this course is to offer both a content and method of instruction that are virtually nonexistent in present day high schools (and, for that matter, anywhere else). This means providing a novel forum with a highly motivated peer group and an informed and helpful teacher.

Students will learn to use their minds excellently in the realms of philosophy and psychology—presumably far better than most university students in these fields. In doing so, they will gain more understanding about the infinite value of themselves and of life. Such a program will also provide a sound foundation for each student to pursue any specific career of interest as an adult.

To my knowledge, teenagers are seldom provided classes or workshops that deal with the core, practical issues of philosophy and psychology. Some schools may offer an intellectual overview of them. For example the history of philosophy may be outlined, like in college philosophy 101. Anyone who has taken such a class probably discovered that it skipped a lot of important questions and ideas—and it provided scant opportunity for personal growth. Likewise, something akin to college introductory psychology might be presently offered in a few American high schools. But again, the information covered usually concerns the history of the field and the various conflicting theories that well-known professionals have constructed. Sadly, in both high school and college, seeking clarity in these matters is not a priority.

On the other hand, a few schools do offer classes that take on the idea of self-improvement or self-enhancement. Many of these probably focus on students’ personal issues and relationships. As long as they enable students to gain a better understanding of how to improve their lives and become happier, such courses are definitely valuable.

However, any class dealing with self-improvement and relationship issues must deal with broader abstractions, that is, with philosophical ideas. Only when we grasp the proper context of ideas and actions can we truly grasp their meanings and implications. A comprehensible philosophical framework gives one the tools by which to accurately judge the benefits or drawbacks of various theories, ideas, beliefs, behaviors, plans, objectives, and so on.

Just as vitally, any aim of teaching psychology must concern itself with the core aspect of psychology: self-esteem. One must see oneself as both effective in life and worthy of various (actual and potential) experiences. Values and virtues need to be checked logically for difficulties or inconsistencies. Reality and one’s person need to be reflected on objectively, so that one does not lose touch with the essentials of one’s existence—or lose sight that happiness is our highest moral purpose. In turn, personal feelings and emotions need to be accepted, understood, and integrated in many different contexts.

This program provides the unique opportunity to accomplish these things—as well as enjoy the whole process. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at info@logicallearning.net.

Course Plan

The course’s timetable is modeled closest to a university's quarter system. It is a 6 week course, meeting once a week for 2.5 hours, for six weeks.

The first hour concerns philosophy-related study. The second hour is dedicated to psychology-related study. The half hour in between will be for a break/discussion and individualized feedback. So, philosophy and psychology are taught concurrently during the six weekly meetings.

Class size will range from 6 to 10 students. Class size is limited to 10 for pedagogical reasons. Ten or less facilitates important group dynamics. For example, there is time to reflect on what others have said, time to temporarily opt out of participation and, conversely, time to actively participate. Such a group size also generates a range of viewpoints and provides multiple frames of reference. In addition, it maintains a high level of group cohesiveness. Students will feel comfortable expressing thoughts and feelings without threat of sanction or disapproval. The point is to understand and to feel understood. Thus, I suspect some great friendships will be made.

Student ages will probably range between 14 and 18. The upper age limit will be the equivalent to a Senior in high school. While many aspects of this course may challenge the student in ways more advanced than typical college courses on these subjects, it is nonetheless designed to be a preparatory program for university study—or, more importantly, for venturing into the world as an adult.

Because the course is designed to be interactive, it will use discussion and debate as primary methods of learning. Active participation by each student is important, although the amount is left totally to his or her discretion.

The point of having a "class" is not to teach to the class, but rather to facilitate education of the individuals in the class. Student input—questions, comments, concerns, criticisms, etc.—is indispensable and vital to a beneficial learning process (as well as, I might add, to staying awake).

Incidentally, however popular grades and tests may be in schools today, they are not just irrelevant in this regard—they are actually damaging to the learning process (as explained in my academic essay and in my book's education section). Thus there will be neither grading nor testing in the formal sense; the only formal tests will be those requested by students. Certificates will be issued that signify completion of the course.

Astute guidance and thoughtful and helpful feedback are necessary for students to feel empowered, and for them to organize and convey their thoughts and feelings effectively (be they spoken or written). A successful teacher, like a successful tutor, helps the student reach his or her own conclusions, while keeping the overall class context in mind.

Such considerations should allay any potential worries about having to be a passive student who is told what to do—and what not to do—by the teacher. After all, the primary reason for participating in such a course is because you are very interested in these subjects. The purpose of this course, then, is to convey valuable knowledge in a context that facilitates growth and beneficial social interaction.

Philosophy Curriculum

philosophy topics

Psychology Curriculum

psychology topics