BillMcGaughey.com
       

A Proposal for a New Type of College

by William McGaughey


Over the past 15 to 20 years, I have created twelve different websites that are posted permanently online. They can be an endowment for a new type of college. Some of the websites have parallel pages in other languages.

The three categories of web sites with parallel pages by language category are -

A English only
B English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Italian
C English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, simplified Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish, Polish, Dutch, and Russian (partial)

The domain names of the twelve websites are -

1 BillMcGaughey.com (language category C)
2 bighistorysite.com (language category C)
3 worldhistorysite.com (language category B)
4 identityindependence.com (language category B)
5 shorterworkweek.com (language category B)
6 goldparty.org (language category B)

7 landlordpolitics.com (language category A)
8 newindependenceparty.org (language category A)
9 newdignityparty.org (language category A)
10 thistlerose.org (language category A)
11 neonixonian.org (language category A)
12 billforpresident.org (language category A)

This is a brief description of each website:

The following are multilingual websites.

1. BillMcGaughey.com : This is the personal site of Bill McGaughey, creator of this collection of web sites. With some duplication, the site contains links to 205 subordinate pages. Some of the pages pertain to McGaughey’s family background, some of his collection of writings, some to his fights as a landlord or to his various political campaigns, some to his advocacy of shorter working hours, some to books of history, and some to theoretical works on other subjects. As of this writing, Bill McGaughey is a 75-year-old married man who, having grown up in the Detroit area, has spent most of his life in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota. He is a Yale graduate, class of 1964.

2. bighistorysite.org : This web site was created to present and explain a prospective book by Bill McGaughey titled “History of the Triple Existence: Matter, Life, and Thought.” It is a work in the field of “big history”, pioneered by Australian history professor David Christian who has agreed to write a foreword. The idea is that three different types of being exist in the universe and each has a story to tell. The physical universe is 13.8 years old. Life appeared on earth round 3.5 billion years ago. Civilized societies, embodying human thought, have existed for around 6,000 years. Each period of time has a story to tell that helps explain how our world came to be. The concepts developed in McGaughey’s previous book, Five Epochs of Civilization, apply to the period of human societies. There are 19 separate articles on this site.

3. worldhistorysite.com : This book by Bill McGaughey, “Five Epochs of Civilization”, which was published in 2000, is a history of civilized society focusing upon the successive development of key institutions in society such as government, religion, commerce, and entertainment. Over the years, human societies have become progressively more complex as new institutions have been developed. Communication technology is a driving force in the development of new types of society. Presently, the computer is on the cutting edge of progress in shaping human societies.This web site contains 105 separate pages.

4. identityindependence.com : This is a web site about personal identity, both in general terms and with respect to being an American. The idea of identity independence is that you get to choose your own identity regardless of pressures in society to accept certain roles. Personal identity has been a particular problem for white males in our society. McGaughey has chosen to address this problem head on in this site. There are 93 separate pages.

5. shorterworkweek.com : Bill McGaughey has been a long-time advocate of legislation to achieve shorter working hours in the United States. He self-published a book in support of this objective in 1979 titled “A Shorter Workweek in the 1980s” and in 1989 published another one, coauthored with former US Senator Eugene McCarthy, through Praeger titled “Nonfinancial Economics the Case for Shorter Hours of Work” in 1989 He was active in supporting legislation for the Conyers bill to reduce work time, both by himself and as leader of a small organization in Minnesota. This multilingual website contains 65 separate articles.

6. goldparty.org : This web site, containing 15 separate pages, presents a political fantasy that political power can be achieved by developing powerful personal incentives within political parties. In particular, individuals would be given credit in the form of points for doing political work and that the number of points “owned” by a person would determine his or her voting strength within an organization. Thus, an anti-plutocratic organization might be created using the same types of incentives employed in an economy based upon the unequal possession of money.

The following websites are only in English.

7. landlordpolitics.com : Thrown into local political battles in his role as an inner-city landlord in Minneapolis, Bill McGaughey became a member of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee in the 1990s and 2000s, under the leadership of a charismatic table-tennis player and entrepreneur named Charlie Disney. He himself later became the group’s co-leader. This website, containing 197 separate pages, describes numerous battles waged by this group of landlords over a period of two decades against city officials and groups that were hostile toward them culminating in a massive change in city government in 2001.

8. newindependenceparty.org : In 2008, Bill McGaughey ran for Congress in Minnesota’s 5th district as a candidate of the Independence Party. He finished third to Democrat Keith Ellison and Republican Barb Davis White, attracting 22,318 votes or 6.92% of the total. This website contains position papers related to the election and the candidate’s narrative of his campaign.

9. newdignityparty.org : If one defeat in local politics were not enough, William McGaughey ran for Mayor of Minneapolis in 2009 on a self-created ticket with two other men, both Minneapolis landlords, which they called “New Dignity Party”. His campaign, among other things, overtly advocated for white people in an environment of extreme toxicity regarding race. Running against 27 other candidates in an election using “ranked choice voting” for the first time, McGaughey evidently came across as a racist, attracting a mere 230 votes.

10. thistlerose.org : This is the website for Thistlerose Publications which Bill McGaughey uses to publish his books, mostly in paperback. Some of the titles are: A Shorter Workweek in the 1980s (published in 1981), Punchdrunk Man Reader (published in 1988), Nonfinancial Economics: the Case for Shorter Hours of Work (coauthored with Eugene McCarthy and published in 1989), A U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement: Do We Just Say No? (published in 1992), Five Epochs of Civilization: World History as emerging in Five Civilizations (published in 2000), Rhythm and Self-Consciousness: New Ideals for an electronic Civilization (published in 2001), the Independence Party and the Future of Third-Party Politics (published in 2003), and On the Ballot in Louisiana: Running for President to Fight National Decay (published in 2004).

11. neonixonian.org : Bill McGaughey had another website supporting “progressive Republicans” whose domain name he relinquished to someone who promised to support this cause more aggressively. In its place, he created a website titled “neonixonian” that aspired to improve the tarnished image of Richard Nixon, a much maligned political figure.

12. billforpresident.org : A glutton for punishment, Bill McGaughey ran for President once again in 2016 as a candidate in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary. The result was a dismal 17 votes. If this were not enough, McGaughey became ill in New Hampshire and had to be hospitalized for several days. Donald Trump was instead elected President that year. In 2016, McGaughey became a medical patient suspected of having dementia. (But he’s well enough to put out these websites now that he’s gone off the medications.)

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These web sites are an intellectual endowment for a possible community of scholars engaged in activities resembling a college. In the remainder of this site, let’s speculate what that might be.

First, the twelve websites themselves will remain forever available to the public free of charge. Anyone can read them for as little or as long a period of time as they want. Now I want to speculate how this collection of websites can become something more - something resembling an online college campus.

The difference between a website and an educational institution is certification of learning. Students of materials on the website must be tested for knowledge of its content. In this way, the user receives credit for knowing what is there in the courses. Such credit enhances the user’s personal identity. That might be worth something in connecting with like-minded people or searching for jobs.

If I were to characterize the content of these websites in terms of knowledge, I would say that the knowledge falls into several categories:

A) History: Two of the web sites - worldhistorysite.com and bighistorysite.com - narrate universal histories in terms recognizable for a college course.

B) Landlord Politics: The web site, landlordpolitics.com, has a collection of materials describing the sometimes successful activities of Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee, a landlord group, in fighting a hostile city government.

C) Campaigns for Elective Office: Here we get into the experience of running unsuccessfully for political office at several levels. Obviously, this does not offer technique for successful campaigns but it does illustrate contemporary politics. The following web sites are in this category: newindependenceparty.org, newdignityparty.org, and billforpresident.org, which describe respectively the author’s 2008 campaign for Congress in Minnesota’s 5th district, his 2009 campaign for Mayor of Minneapolis, and his campaign for U.S. President in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire. There is also the text of a book, On the Ballot in Louisiana, describing McGaughey’s campaign for President in Louisiana’s 2004 Democratic primary. Another web site related to electoral politics, Goldparty.org, speculates that providing specific personal incentives to work on political campaigns could revolutionize the process.

D) Personal identity from a white American man’s point of view: The site, identityindependence.com, presents a general discussion of this topic. The author’s personal website, BillMcGaughey.com, also contains related materials.

E) The politics and economics of work time: The site, shorterworkweek.com, contains more than 60 articles related to the proposal to shorten work time in the United States.

F) Others: Thistlerose.org is a site to learn about Bill McGaughey’s published books. Neonixonian.org is a rather quirky defense of Richard Nixon and his legacy. (It would take someone close to my age to be interested in this.)

As you can see, much of this is not “how-to” knowledge enabling the reader to succeed in particular careers or fields of endeavor but, rather, a collection of insights and experiences relevant to each field. Whether it is useful knowledge is for the prospective user to decide.

How does this eclectic set of interests stack up against the more traditional college courses? It’s quite unconventional, wouldn’t you say? Even so, the knowledge is worth something, if not occupationally then as a way to expand one’s horizon of awareness and experience. Each person “learns” in this way.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks. What would the “college” of Bill McGaughey’s personal experience look like? Is it even worth considering? I would not have created this web site if I did not think so.

Let me say at this point that I do not think anyone would, or should, want to take a “college” course based on my or any one person’s experience alone. That would be too narrow and egotistical. Therefore, to elevate this collection of writings to the level of a college curriculum would take collaboration with other persons who have other interests and experience. But we should all be independent scholars doing much the same thing each in our own way but willing to work together.

Therefore, I would invite others who might want to join in this endeavor to create their own collection of websites that can potentially become associated with mine. We might call this organized set of efforts the “Independent Scholars’ Websites Association”. Its productions could become the basis of an online college.

I have done my part already although the work will certainly not stop. My collection of twelve websites is already established. They are out there for anyone in the world to see free of charge. Other independent scholars may want to join me in this endeavor. At some point we will connect and take it to the next level.

What is that? I aspire to be a low-cost deliverer of credentials. The intellectual discussion is there already but people also want recognition for having participated intelligently in it. They want recognition for possessing a body of knowledge. And the only way that can be assured is to be tested. If they pass the test, they presumably possess the knowledge on which it is based. That’s taking it to the next level.

A shortcoming of the current system of higher education is that it costs too much. The average college student graduates with $22,000 in student-loan debt. Yes, much if not all of this can be repaid after a certain number of years if the job market is strong and college graduates continue to receive preferential treatment in hiring. However, it is not job skills so much that is being taught in college but traditional subject material in the liberal arts having little commercial value. Although the bubble has not yet burst on purchasing such things, there is always that possibility. If educational credentials are supposed to lead to desirable careers, then the careers themselves should dictate to a greater extent what is taught assuming that career competence is implied.

Higher education comes in an expensive package that must be purchased as a whole to become valuable. (Who would want to hire a college drop-out?) Traditionally, it comes in 4-year or 2-year packages completed with a set of tests that must be passed for credit to be received. This means that “partially learned” knowledge is not valued. It’s “pass” or “fail” on the entire package. A possible solution might be to educate in smaller packages of course work or give degrees for partial completion of a program.

So, what do I propose for a college? Instead of 4-year or 2-year sets of courses, I would allow students to “graduate” after one, two, or three months, receiving a “degree” after each level of courses. There would be a test after each month’s course. The degree would be assured after its passage. But not all degrees are alike. Students might receive an “associate degree” for passing a one-month course, an “intermediate degree” for passing two months of courses, and a “full degree” for passing three months of course work. After that, it would be time to go to a conventional college if one’s educational ambitions were not yet satisfied.

To make this type of “college” more attractive, it might be desirable to arrange for the conventional colleges to give credit to students graduating from our mini-college to help satisfy their own requirements. In other words, those credits based on month-long courses would transfer to the new institution. Why would the conventional colleges ever agree to such a proposition? Would not our mini-colleges, in a sense, be their competitors, eating into potential revenue? Yes, but they would also be feeders for the conventional colleges who must compete with each other for students. Though competitors in one sense, we would also be helping them to recruit paying students.

How about tuitions? Remember that our mini-colleges would have no teaching faculty. All the material for courses would be available on the internet, to be had for free. The only expense would be for testing students individually and for administration. Under those circumstances, it might be possible to charge, say, $800 to complete a one-month course and $600 per course more for each course beyond this, up to three months. The student could be in a one-month, two-month, or three-month program, able to continue to the next level or stop as individual preferences or circumstances dictate.

To convert the websites into educational courses, two things would be necessary. First, a study program should be developed for each web site whose content would be the basis of testing. Second, the tests themselves would be developed.

I propose two types of tests for each degree. One would be a set of true of false questions which could easily be graded. The other would be a written essay that would be evaluated by a human being. Initially, those scholars who created the websites whose materials were tested might administer the tests but other arrangements might also be possible. At any rate, a combination of true-or-false and written essays would determine whether a student passed or failed.

In summary, to establish this new “college”, we would need to arrange for sets of websites to be posted and maintained on the internet. We would need courses with testable content to be developed. And we would need the tests themselves. We would need people to evaluate the written tests. And finally we would need printed certificates for course completion.

Maybe this college should focus primarily on personality. It would try to teach young people who they really are. It would teach them to think about such things, communicating their personalities effectively to other people. In the end, we would be creating a new type of community where each and every type of person belongs.

Once such a college is established, we would try to build communities among its alumni who would meet periodically for social and other purposes. We might establish an employment service for graduates or for liaisons to the conventional colleges. We might try to connect with other short-term courses related to career preparation, teaching skills required for today’s jobs.

With continuing care and concern for its graduates, this type of college might come to be seen as the wave of the future. It might play an invigorating role in society. A 75-year old man, I can see this coming about in my lifetime. The time is ripe for such a thing.

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French - Spanish - German - Portuguese - Italian

Chinese - Indonesian - Turkish - Polish - Dutch - Russian

 

Note: If you enjoyed this theoretical discussion of how to transform education, you might also enjoy another proposal aimed at revolutionizing the political process. See http://www.goldparty.org.


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