Perspectives: Creating new American founders

OPINION – I’m torn. On the one hand, I’m about to share a secret that I’d rather keep between a few close friends and myself. On the other hand, I wish everyone could experience what my son Forrest and I experienced this past week.

The two of us, along with 20 other families, spent the past week camping, working, and playing in the foothills of the Blue Mountains near Monticello, Utah. We were attending the third annual Monticello College Family Retreat.

We came to teach and to be taught. We volunteered our labor to help build the mountain campus. We dined on healthy gourmet meals. We hiked and enjoyed the company of people from as far away as Upstate New York.

The sun was intensely hot at 7,200 feet elevation, but each day we were rewarded with late afternoon and nightly thunderstorms that cooled us down. The nightly storms were our favorites as we rode them out in our tents.

The first night was the heaviest deluge of the week and a few of us found water running through and beneath our tents. But experience is a quick teacher and by the second night, everyone was properly set up to stay dry.

From our vantage point at the foot of the mountains, we could observe the nightly light show for 30 miles in almost every direction. More often than not, we’d be joined by dozens of deer quietly grazing and wandering through our mountain campus.

But rather than simply creating an idyllic vacation getaway, the purpose behind Monticello College is one of creating new American founders.

The school is based upon a model described by Josiah Bunting III in his book “An Education for Our Time.” It combines a deep classical liberal arts education with the acquisition of real leadership skills and the development of personal mission for its students. It seeks to create disinterested leaders.

The term “disinterested” refers to a quality of character in which a person leads honorably and without being distracted by things like fame, fortune, or awards. It is reminiscent of the public virtue practiced by America’s founding generation when they pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to secure our country’s independence.

You don’t have to look too closely at the current state of leadership in this country to see the critical need for men and women of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage. There is also great need for individuals who can inspire greatness in others and, by their leadership, move the cause of liberty.

This kind of leadership requires personal depth and real understanding of human nature. These qualities are developed through intense study of the Great Books of Western Civilization and lifelong self-education rather than simple schooling. It also requires faith, meaningful service to others, and willingness to self-govern.

The school also incorporates the concept of Georgics as described by the poet Homer and extolled by Thomas Jefferson. Georgics involve a self-reliant lifestyle that includes the ability to produce one’s own food.

To this end, our days were filled with lectures and discussions on Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Euclid, Cicero, Solzhenitsyn and Ayn Rand. We had hands-on demonstrations of how to cast a broken bone, home production of fermented foods, and making medicine at home. The youth learned trek survival training and took part in team-building obstacle courses. Even the very young were able to help feed and care for the livestock.

We painted the school’s barn and put a steel roof on it. We dug post holes, cleared brush and rocks and prepared the campus for the next phases of construction.

The great secret is that all of this took place in one of the few truly peaceful settings that still remain in the world.

Why would someone bother to build such a school so far removed from the conveniences and accoutrements of modern life? It’s because the location is key to the school’s mission. The vantage point of the campus, in addition to having a spectacular view of Southeastern Utah, provides a place where a student can experience real introspection.

Away from the bright lights and the electronic distractions of everyday life, our personal antennae become more finely tuned to the good, the noble, and the uplifting.

Isn’t it time to become the kind of leaders who value such things? The future looks much brighter when we recognize that political leadership is not the only leadership needed. There is hope when we take an active role instead of waiting for others to do so.

I’d rather take the chance of too many people learning of this concept, than keep it a secret to preserve my little slice of heaven.


Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Shaun McCausland July 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Bryan, thanks for sharing. I am envious and wish I could go experience the place. I have enjoyed working with the students at the Commonwealth School in St. George which encourages the same types of education, but to do it all day everyday in a place apart – that would be heaven.

  • Roy J July 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    The link provided at the bottom is an essay about Rose Hill College, a bright and short lived Orthodox Great Books school. The author is Professor James Cutsinger of the University of South Carolina. It provides an interesting insight about theory and practice among Great Book schools, what works and what doesn’t, the grit and the glory. I met several students from Rose Hill after it closed down and wish I had had the chance to visit it while it was running, it sounded like a great school.

  • Chris August 4, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    If I am not mistaken, the founder and president of Monticello College is Shanon Brooks, who attained a degree of infamy in his association with George Wythe College and with its unsavory founder, Oliver DeMille. I am sure you are aware of their alleged misdeeds, which have been well documented by the current board of trustees of GWC. I have to question your wisdom in becoming involved with this shady character.

    • Bryan Hyde August 5, 2013 at 6:00 am

      What do you actually know about either of these men that was not spoon-fed to you by someone else?
      It’s easy to repeat rumors and innuendo, but what research have you been willing to do for yourself, Chris?
      Perhaps you should consider some input from actual GWC students first?

      • philiplo August 5, 2013 at 8:21 am

        Rumors and innuendo? By that you mean all of the factual information of DeMille’s fraudulent educational history, and Brooks’ theft from George Wythe while serving as president?
        “As the board continued its investigation, a number of egregious actions were discovered that the board felt could potentially justify legal action. These include Brooks deeding away 50 acres of donated land without board knowledge and concealing his encumbering of the school with $230,000 in debt to private individuals, again without board authorization. Audits further revealed that he failed to reconcile bank accounts and wrote roughly $20,000 in untraceable blank checks.”

      • Chris August 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm

        As a matter of fact, I have done considerable research of my own on this matter. Both DeMille and Brooks are clearly charlatans who have duped a great many innocent people, including you apparently. How can you excuse the well documented misdeeds that “philliplo” refers to above? You are either a part of their ruse or a chump for believing them. I am inclined to think the latter.

      • Chris August 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        Interesting that not one of the testimonials contained in your link refutes the accusations against these two men.

        • Bryan Hyde August 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

          Not as interesting as the fact that these are people who actually have personal experience working with and being mentored by the individuals in question. Who am I to believe, those who have known them personally, or a stranger’s hearsay on the internet?
          Since I know them both personally, I know who I’d trust.

          • Chris August 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm

            So, that’s the best you can do? You know them, and you trust them? No attempt to refute very serious and very public charges against these two con artists? You know as well as anyone that these allegations go far beyond “a stranger’s hearsay on the internet.” If there is nothing to them, why has there been no defamation suit against the board of trustees? It is quite obvious that these two men cannot defend their behavior and are simply running away from their pasts. I have to say that your ability to judge character is severely lacking.

          • philiplo August 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

            That attitude — ignoring evidence that falls outside personal experience — is exactly what many criminals count on when perpetrating large scale affinity fraud.

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