Erik Lidström, a Swedish physicist working in IT, quoted several times Le Secret de l'Occident (1997-edition) in his 2015-book on the need for reforming higher education. He was particularly interested in the sorry state of schools in declining phases of other civilizations. In order to reform Western teaching systems, Lidstrom advocates a trial-and-error approach (as the best methods won't be known in advance) and a kind of privatization of schools (so as to obtain competition's benefits).

Erik Lidstrom: Education Unchained: What It Takes to Restore Schools and Learning, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 26 October 2015, 190 pages.

Safety copy of internet extract (GoogleBooks): Jan 2018. Docu PDF. Source.
The Secret of Science


Summary on 4th cover page

Are we going about education the wrong way? The somewhat shocking demonstration of this book is that "we" simply cannot reform "our" schools "together". We don't actually even know what schools or education really are. Education can only be improved the same way we improve and invent things in other walks of life, through unbridled, unchained trial and error.

Review (Amazon, 07 Jan 2018)

Erik Lidstrom has provided us with a heretical, but brilliant expose of modern education. There is wide agreement that the modern, bureaucratic school system does not work well and is subject to a never-ending cyclical spate of reforms that often make matters worse. By combining economics and evolutionary theory with an intriguing account of the educational system and outcomes before and after government organized schooling, Lidstrom makes a cogent and thoughtful argument for a ground-up, market-based approach to education. No doubt, the thesis will irritate and offend many educators, but this is all the more reason to read the book and seriously reflect on Lidstrom's proposals.--David C. Geary, PhD, curators' professor, Thomas Jefferson Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri

The shortfalls of government-supplied education loom ever larger as time marches on. Considering radical alternatives today, however, violating more than one nostrum of political correctness, Erik Lidstrom takes us beyond such conventionalities to show freedom and competition are a significant part of the answer to the educational crisis of our time.--Samuel Gregg, director of research, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

Throw away all those books on how to fix the education system. As Erik Lidstrom shows in this thought-provoking book, full of insights, the only way to fix education is not to fix it. Education is too important to be left to the "education experts," and should be a matter for the real experts - schools, teachers and parents.--Johan Norberg, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of "In Defence of Global Capitalism"

About the Author

Erik Lidstrom holds an MSc and a PhD in physics from Uppsala University, as well as an MBA from the Open University. After research at the ESRF in Grenoble, he moved to the software industry in 2000. He has worked in Britain, France, Sweden and Morocco, lately with a primary interest in complex development processes and organizational issues.


Chap 2, page 26, footnote 6

6. In China, in 1818, there existed two teachers and twenty-four students in higher mathematics in an empire with 360 million inhabitants. (Martzloff 1907, 83; Cosandey 1997, 485). This was of course at a state academy. All private academies had been closed by the authorities in 1625-27 (Cosandey 1997, 481). In general, Imperial Chinese regulations for elementary schools passed artithmetic over in silence. As far as we can tell, the subject was simply not taught (Martzloff 1997, 83) “Arithmetics was reserved for merchants, artisans, and tax collectors, who often seem to have acquired their know-how on the job rather than at school".

Chap 5, page 60, footnote 4

4. Until the eleventh century, ulemas (Muslim legal scholars) worked as privately employed jurisconsults and searched freely in the sacred texts, something that they were encouraged to do by a Hadith attributed to prophet Mohamed himself (Makdisi 1981, 1-2). The results were hundreds of legal schools of Islam, but in 1267 in Cairo, only four legal scholars were appointed by the authorities, each representing one school. These four schools are those that remain to this day.The other schools were disavowed, abd by about 1300, they had all disappeared.
   Early in Islam, the jurisconsults were in private practice, often with merchants as clients, in spite of the authorities' attempts to control them by, for example, creating the official role of judge (qadi). In the eleventh century, numerous ulemas refused employment in the newly created state run madrasas (Cosandey 1997, 359-60).But econnomic pressure gradually reduced them to misery, and the death knell to their independence came in the fourteenth century, in the form of appointed mufti state servants. Soon, the muftis (the pinnacle of the legal hierarchy) all became employed by the prince.
   The universities in Europe were at first all private and began as law schools and institutions to teach theoogy. Similarly, at the beginning of the nineth century, there existed over five hundreds private schools in the Islamic world that taught law and theology (Cosandey 1997, 358-359). By the end of the eleventh century, they had declined to be replaced by the state-financed madrasahs.

Created: 28 Feb 2020 – Last modified: 01 Mar 2020