Three years ago, Libertas Institute President Connor Boyack conducted a basic search for liberty-minded books — on topics like limited government, property rights, free markets, etc. — geared toward his young children’s age and comprehension level. The results were disappointing.
“There was material for older kids, especially teenagers. There was stuff for younger kids about the government — or, rather, I should say the Constitution. But there wasn't anything that talked about the kind of ideals underlying all of that,” Boyack told Conservative Review.
In the wake of this discouraging revelation, Boyack decided he’d have to take it upon himself to change it. So he teamed up with his friend, illustrator Elijah Stanfield, and created the first “Tuttle Twins” book, with the mission to provide parents with age-appropriate resources to teach their children (target age: 5-10) about the basic principles of liberty. Then they made four more.
The “Tuttle Twins” series follows brother and sister Ethan and Emily Tuttle on various adventures as they discover timeless truths about liberty, basic economics, and good citizenship.
Boyack explained to CR how many free-market think tanks like the Utah-based Libertas Institute are “spending obscene amounts of money trying to educate adults about the principles of freedom,” only to find that many adults need to be “de-educated” after a lifetime of progressive messaging and liberal indoctrination in the public school system.
“So waiting until they're adults becomes very inefficient,” he said.
“Really, it comes down to execution. If an idea is presented to a child unquestioningly, as absolute truth, and it in fact is not true — or it's an opinion, or is biased — then that is indoctrination. We're trying to enable parents to expose ideas to their children that they would normally not be exposed to.”
“The Road to Surfdom” illustrates the unintended consequences of policies and principles like central planning, collectivism, and eminent domain, while highlighting the importance of individualism and the free market:
Connor Boyack is a firm believer in school choice. As a think tank executive — and parent who’s chosen to homeschool his son and daughter — he is a leading advocate for broader parental control in education.
“Too often schools have grown into a self-aggrandizing system that justifies its existence as a virtue and that they are the custodians of education. They know what's best. They are the professionals, but they are servants, and they're employed by parents. And they should be subject to parents,” Boyack told CR.
In Boyack’s view, school choice is “a realignment of who's in charge”; the government and teachers should merely function as a “support system” for parents, who get the final say.
“So we need to realign laws, financial incentives, and budgets to make clear that it is the parents in charge,” Boyack said. “They should be able to decide, and you can't really decide anything if you don't have options. So there has to be competition. There has to be different approaches, and schools, and opportunities for parents to have a meaningful decision in how they educate their children.”
Boyack and his colleagues at Libertas Institute have worked with grade-school teachers to create an economics course based on the second book in the “Tuttle Twins” series. “The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil” takes the free market principles illustrated in Leonard Read’s famous essay, “I, Pencil,” and explains them in terms children can understand.
Libertas has launched a crowdfunding campaign to get their lesson plan and books into classrooms around the country. A $100 donation is enough to supply materials for a class of 25 students. Libertas’ goal is to raise $40,000, which would allow them to reach an additional 10,000 students.
To learn more or contribute, click here. The project ends Feb. 10, and Libertas is almost halfway to meeting their goal.
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Carly Hoilman is a Correspondent for Conservative Review. You can follow her on Twitter @CarlyHoilman.