The Psychology and Philosophy of Education of Ayn Rand in The Comprachicos

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I. The Psychology and Philosophy of Education of Ayn Rand as presented in ‘The Comprachicos’

Ayn Rand writes mainly about the status quo and what and who is to be blamed for such circumstances. She talks of a miseducation so ingenious that when one reads about it one simply gets baffled as he is forced to look into his own experiences from the home, to the school, to the Church and in the province or in the city. One can expect to see various parallelisms with how he is brought up and what he is usually told by his superiors. The reason for these apparent similarities, I think is that aside from the ‘system’ that almost each person is forced into; there is something common in every one of us. This is what makes us man, Rand says, our capability to be rational. Rand believes that man is rational and that this characteristic is, by itself unyielding. It is a capacity that can be impaired and can be prevented to work at its best, as what the comprachicos do but it survives even in those who are the ‘exact concretization’ of the Nursery School ideal, the hippies. Rationality is that which enables any man to; even with the worst education given to him feel that something is wrong because things appear blurred to him, that things must have clarity for it to appear blurred in the first place. It gives him an inkling perhaps or an intuition that something is not right around him and yet he still feels that ‘he has to make something somehow’. This is because of his rationality which naturally is the opposite of the fake, the submission, the uncertainty and the chaos. Man is rational because he has a mind. For Rand, this mind is empty at birth as what John Locke holds to be Tabula Rasa. It does not have innate contents; it is on the other hand waiting to be written upon by the experiences to come. Rand says that it has the potential for awareness, with a conscious and a subconscious mind that he must learn to operate to be able to construct inferences about the perceptions he will make. Thus, one can easily see how important it is for every child to be given enough opportunity to develop this potential especially in the years of his life that it is most needed. Rand stresses that it is in the first two years of a person’s life that what he is capable of learning is most significant both in the quantity and the degree of his curiosity about everything around him and the intensity of how he takes every detail seriously. When he reaches his third year, Rand says, his cognitive development is completed. He has acquired the things he need, what he has to do at this point is to use them. How he uses his cognitive tools will determine how well his conceptual ability will be when he grows older. Hence, as early as the nursery level, educators should already start training the child’s mind. Rand holds that teachers should focus on the progress of his mind’s automization of conceptual knowledge. By this, he can then retain the knowledge gained in his consciousness and move on to new information so that gradually, he will learn to integrate the old and new inputs and thus establish relationships between them. This will guide the child in understanding the basic concept of time-continuity and in internalizing a projection of the future instead of acting on whatever he feels like doing in the moment. If the simple idea of having something like tomorrow, or even later, and that what is done at the moment affects the time thereafter is introduced to the child, he will inevitably practice his rational faculty because he needs to look at all his choices and reason when he is choosing among the different alternatives. He needs to think and debate by himself what best could be done in the situation because the consequences of it would always have a lot of implications. Rand postulates that if a child is given the chance to exercise his reason, being caught in an event where he has to make decisions will...
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