The Proposal for George Wythe University
A Renaissance in Education
In 2006 an internal George Wythe Foundation white paper outlined the case for George Wythe University. This document is being published in its entirety in The Statesman over the course of several months. What follows is Part III. Click here for Part I, Part II.
The George Wythe University Proposal
"Mentors must embody the qualities of character we wish to educe in our students.
When we say ‘educe,’ we mean draw forth . . . be paragons of the sort of excellence we want our students to learn.
And not only learn, but to become . . .
These men and women, these mentors, are themselves unfinished persons.
They are to be strivers, searchers, tenaciously engaged in their work.”
The day will again come when this nation will stand at a vital crossroads, and only statesmen the caliber of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln will be able to take it in the right direction. When that day comes, George Wythe University graduates will be prepared to lead like the Founding Fathers did.
The same will happen in other nations. At no time in the history of the world have we needed the wisdom and body of knowledge of the Founding Fathers and their generation more than we do today, yet at no time has it been less studied or applied. Not only do we need to know and utilize what the Founders knew in order to renew and perpetuate freedom for our children and grandchildren, but we desperately need statesmen in our generation like Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and so many others of their time.
These men were educated a unique way and in a unique environment, using a certain set of educational methods and readings. When we stopped using the founding method of education in the U.S., we stopped getting these kinds of statesmen in significant numbers and our freedoms began to slip away.
George Wythe was among the greatest teachers of the Founders. He personally mentored Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, James Monroe, Henry Clay and over thirty eventual senators, congressmen, judges, governors and local officials. He was involved in the adult education of George Washington, John Adams, and more than twenty leading Founders. George Wythe introduced moot courts and mock congresses to America, and focused his entire teaching method on study of the classics under the guidance of a wise mentor with an eye toward application to current events. It is no exaggeration to say that his teaching dramatically impacted the founding era and that without his influence the U.S. Constitution would not have been what it is.
George Wythe University re-introduces this kind of statesmanship education to the Twenty-first Century. It follows the same model which trained the great U. S. founding statesmen and other great statesmen through history including Cicero, Gladstone, Burke, Lincoln, Ghandi and Churchill.
To better understand this Renaissance in American education, allow me in the following pages to detail the specifics of George Wythe University.
The mission of George Wythe University is “to build men and women of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage who inspire greatness in others and move the cause of liberty.” This mission is at the very core of our existence. Great leaders, known and unknown alike, from the past and present who exemplify this mission we have named statesmen. Statesmen and stateswomen are individuals who live the qualities outlined in the GWU mission. Everything that is done at George Wythe University is done to fulfill this vision.
Benjamin Franklin said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt . . . they have more need of masters. Samuel Adams said: “I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may enjoy her . . . freedom if she will. It depends on her virtue.”
The founding generation spoke of two types of virtue: private virtue and public virtue. Private virtue, they taught, is morality, obedience to the Biblical commandments, doing what is right. And private virtue is essential to freedom: immorality leads inevitably to loss of freedom—personal and eventually national.
Public virtue, on the other hand, is a totally distinct concept from private virtue, though equally vital to liberty. Most of the people who attend our recruiting seminars who try to define public virtue say something like: public virtue is where government officials are moral in their personal lives, or public virtue is when leaders pass moral laws. But public virtue is even more fundamental than these things—it is one of the things which makes them possible.
Charles De Secondat, Baron De Montesquieu, a contemporary of the early American founders, identified this quality of public virtue in his book The Spirit of Laws:
Most of the ancients lived under governments that had virtue for their principle; and when this was in full vigor they performed actions unusual in our times, and at which our narrow minds are astonished. Another advantage their education possessed over ours was that it never could be effaced by contrary impressions. Epaminondas, the last year of his life, said, heard, beheld, and performed the very same things as at the age in which he received the first principles of his education In our days we receive three different or contrary educations, namely, of our parents, of our masters, and of the world. What we learn in the latter effaces all the ideas of former. This, in some measure, arises from the contrast we experience between our religious and worldly engagements, a thing unknown to the ancients.
Public Virtue is so necessary to Liberty that many in the Founding era constantly chronicled its existence and exhorted the criticality of its continuation. Carter Braxton, in an address entitled A Native of this Colony, delivered before the Virginia Convention just weeks before the Unanimous Declaration of July 2, 1776, declared:
It is well known that private and public virtue are materially different. The happiness and dignity of man I admit consists in the practice of private virtues, and to this he is stimulated by the rewards promised to such conduct. In this he acts for himself, and with a view of promoting his own particular welfare. Public virtue, on the other hand, means a disinterested attachment to the public good, exclusive and independent of all private and selfish interest.
Russell Kirk also spoke of this quality in Roots of American Order when he said:
The secret of this universal triumph, said the admirers of the Romans, was the high old Roman virtue; and so said the Roman moralists themselves. “Virtue” means energetic manliness. The early Romans were a pious people, even though their religion itself was a simple faith, later to assimilate many elements from the Greek religion; earnest, tenacious, well-disciplined, frugal, often self-sacrificing when the state was in peril. A sense of duty and an attachment to honesty and honor worked upon their leading men. At the time of when they defeated Carthage, the Romans were virtually incorruptible, the Greek statesman Polybius wrote: From their piety . . . , arose their integrity.
Public Virtue is literally the ability to place others before oneself in a sustained manner, particularly in a crisis. It is a person or group of people voluntarily sacrificing significant personal comfort and benefit for the good of society. History is replete with examples of Public Virtue; Cincinnatus, Joan of Arc, Lord Byron, Abraham Clark, Elizabeth Fry, Robert Morris, Benito Juarez, Annie Sullivan, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and the list goes on.
Though they come from different ages and walks of life, these people all have one thing in common, during their lives, they exhibited Public Virtue. History is clear; without this nutrient, the garden of freedom is short lived.
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it."
Knowledge of human nature, history and the liberal arts applied in alignment with natural law can rightly be termed wisdom. It is the ability to use logic and reason in a way that solves problems long term, from a selfless and disinterested perspective.
The 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary states that “If wisdom is to be considered as a faculty of the mind, it is the faculty of discerning or judging what is most just, proper and useful.” Wisdom is the disinterested possession of an understanding of things as they actually are, and enough simulated and actual life experience to apply principles to real time situations.
We define diplomacy as the ability to effectively marshal people and resources toward a common goal. This necessarily speaks of win-win goals or solutions. A true diplomat in this sense must master the art of listening and thinking “outside the box.” Trust is a widely under-rated attribute for creating successful diplomacy. Statesmanship diplomacy seeks to sincerely and thoughtfully meet the needs of all involved while using wisdom and proven application of principles.
In an age when many have come to agree with the former United Nations Secretary General Trygve Lie’s description of a diplomat “as one who can cut his neighbour’s throat without having his neighbour notice it”, there is much to do to establish lines of communication built on common values, trust and a shared sense of win-win responsibility.
"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of all human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all the others."
Writing prior to receiving the Noble Peace Prize in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi wrote of courage this way:
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it. While it is not easy for a people living under the iron rule of dictatorship to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear . . . even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of man.
Inspire Greatness in Others and Move the Cause of Liberty
“I never understood the need for Statesmanship so vividly until experiencing my internship in China. The need was everywhere, but nowhere that I imagined it would be. The children I worked with weren’t starving for food, but they were starving for love, for education—for freedom. The cause of Liberty is much more vast than the perimeters of my own home, or even my own country; Statesmanship must be worldwide.”
Stepahnie Wilden, Senior - GWC, Idaho
True greatness in an individual can only be seen by others. Inspiring others to greatness can only be done by living great. Mentors at George Wythe University are selected from two categories of people: those who are currently living lives that inspire others and those who show evidence in their character of someone who will likely live great as they mature. Living great is living in such a way that exemplifies striving for an ideal. A statesman is someone who inspires others to greatness by seen things as they really are, in their cold hard reality, seeing things as they should be, regardless of restrictions or limitations imposed by convention or current laws and personally bridging the gap—moving society a little closer to the ideal.
When asked how the mission of GWC impacted their lives, students responded this way:
"In [Istanbul], I conferenced with a number of United Nations Delegates, and was successful in promoting the pro-family agenda in an extremely positive manner . . . George Wythe is preparing me and others to change the world." (Jerami Pack, Junior – GWC, Twin Falls, Idaho)
“Dear Mr. Nuttall: The University of Oklahoma – College of Law has determined by a file review that even though your undergraduate institution is not accredited by our normal accrediting facilities, we will admit based upon the strength of course work and other factors submitted in your application packet.” (Signed - Stanley L Evans, Colonel, USA (Ret), Assistant Dean, University of Oklahoma – College of Law. – Kyle Nuttall, GWC Class of 2003)
“My primary mentor and I have continued to communicate regularly since I graduated from GWC a few years ago. He has coached me through my many challenges and opportunities as I have stepped into the Depth and Mission portion of my life. There have been many times when I was really struggling with the next step. My mentor helped me to know when and how to act boldly, patiently wait, or how to otherwise maneuver through various new experiences. I continue to expect a high level of understanding and wisdom from him because he is walking the road ahead of me. It is such a relief to be ready to start a business, or to create an organization, and to have someone say, "Step back for a second here, look at the holes in this." Then, when I move forward in something new to me I am not only using my own background and studies, I am standing on the shoulders of my mentor.” (Marie Quist, GWC Class of 2003)
Next month's installment will continue to outline the specific proposal for George Wythe.
The Proposal for George Wythe University was written in 2006 by Shanon D. Brooks, then CEO of George Wythe College, based on ideals and plans formulated by Oliver DeMille during the 1990's. The Proposal was presented to the George Wythe Foundation board of trustees and the American Academy for Liberal Education at the time of GWC's application for accreditation.PrintShare this article with a Friend