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Thomas Jefferson Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Visit from International Author and Historian

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Joplin, MO -

History is a subject some students might consider boring  but today at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day school, high school students heard from an international historian with a unique approach to showing them how relevant it can be.

"Imagine having the six killer apps."Yes, Dr. Niall Ferguson said killer apps. Its a  phrase designed to get teens to listen. They are what the historian  uses to describe six ideas and institutions that resulted in a richer and stronger western civilization.
Ferguson listed the six, "Competition political as well as economic competition   the scientific  revolution the idea that we can understand the world through experimentation; the rule of law especially  based on private property rights; modern medicine which  has doubled and tripled life  expectancy; the consumer society, without which theres no point in having an industrial revolution; and the work ethic, that thing that got me  out of bed at six in the morning and will keep me going  until midnight tonight."


Discussing consumer society with students he told them,  "We as a society have careered into debt."  He told them that their generation will be the one paying the bills.
 

Senior Elena Rodgrigues found that intriguing, "I really liked that he studied currency.  I think sometimes  we simplify history. But there are  so many different branches to discover."


He allowed students to ask questions which even included bit coin, and future currency.  Food for thought for students.
Rodriguez added,
Like he said,  history is not a straight line. But I do think if by studying history,  we know how to better react to the future." 


His biggest message to students, whom he says face distractions,
"Read! Read, read, read, whatever your subject, whatever your studying you need to spend  more time reading and less time on social media." 


A message not lost on Elena who said, "To have someone  come here,  whos not a teacher to us,  and you know tells us its super  important and you cant understand the world without understanding reading."   


Savannah Dillard, a sophomore who may want to pursue writing found something in common with the world renowned author. She said, "His process of writing, the hunch and revising. I thought that was really true."

School officials say Ferguson himself went to a private school and that
s something that can inspire the students here.
Interim head of school, Pat MC Inerney said, "I think its really  important for the kids to see someone they would like to emulate."

Ferguson is currently in the process of becoming a united States citizen. He explained, I want to become a citizen  because I  have a great sense of optimism about this countrys future. But I also  want to contribute to that future. And I cant do that if Im not a citizen. One of the ways Id like to contribute is to  help  the education system which is excellent in some parts,
it has the best universities in the world, this country, with a very  few exceptions. But it has some of the worst high schools.
If you look at the performance of high schools in some states its shocking how poor the results are. Schools are failing American children in far too many states and we can see the gap closing. I was shocked by data on Chinese  versus American performance at the teenage level in math. It t is amazing the extent  at which east Asia has caught up with and overtaken us. We've now reached  the point that the children of unskilled workers in shanghai  are doing better at math than  the children of professionals and managers in the United States.
So, we have to fix that  or we're gonna fail a generation.


As instructors hope his words inspired Savannah. "Its really nice to learn from someone whos been there, whos done it,  whos been successful at it."

          Ferguson  was  the keynote speaker for the 25th anniversary celebration for Thomas Jefferson Independent Day school which opened in 1993.
         


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