From the Office of the Director
The John Locke Institute exists for the benefit of exceptional students. These are the students who have the most to gain from an intensive close engagement with the Institute's world-class academics. Our blend of innovative and traditional learning techniques is designed to help elite students unleash their potential; the company of other capable, motivated students creates a mutually-reinforcing community of aspiration and achievement.
These exceptional students are the people from whom we rightly expect the most. As those who will exercise power and influence in the future, these are the students for whom a careful training in critical reasoning will have the greatest positive influence on future generations. It is with this sense of mission that the John Locke Institute aims, above all else, to teach the principles of logical, analytical, and rational thought.
In the course of a dozen or more years of formal schooling, students acquire a great deal of information. In former times it was cherished because it was scarce, but today information is more abundant than our great-grandparents could have predicted, and far more abundant than their great-grandparents could have imagined. The mere transmission of knowledge is therefore one of the least valuable functions schools perform.
Far more important are the thinking skills necessary to process, evaluate and use information to form sound judgments about difficult or controversial questions, and the skills of expression to organise one's thoughts to offer an articulate, persuasive case in favour of those judgments.
And yet intelligent students find themselves surrounded by unchallenged assumptions, submerged in a culture of sloppy thinking. Educational fashions may extend tolerance and pluralism too far, and the ill-formed opinions of confident ignorance are often insulated from robust criticism. Examination mark schemes reward not precise thought and commitment to truth, but any plausible-sounding answer that mentions all the points the student was told to memorise. So, through our summer schools, gap year programmes, and other short courses, the John Locke Institute makes a valuable contribution to the development of the brightest students in the United Kingdom, the United States, and eighty other countries around the world.
I hope I may have the pleasure of seeing you on one of our courses, and welcoming you into our nourishing and inspiring community of students and alumni. Please email me if there is anything I can do to help you make up your mind to join us.
Princeton: +1 (609) 608-0543 . Oxford: +44 (0)1865 566166