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Thursday, February 09, 2012


Newcomers in the workplace, growing children, and me too when I am learning a new hobby, all are eager, bouncy outside the box thinkers.

BUT ... to be really creative without repeating the work of geniuses who figured things out thousands of years ago, requires a quick and solid introduction to as much of the framework of modern human knowledge as possible. How long did it take humans to figure out magnets, chemistry, the flow of blood, and other things we teach our youngest children? 100,000 years? and our youngsters sop it up.

To foster child and adult curiosity best, I think that shoveling on the knowledge of many disciplines (art, science, literature, etc) is a necessity, followed by providing enough security, time and elbow room to explore the linkages between what is known and seek new links.

Lots of knowledge, not unsupported nonsense, lots of whimsey, and a willingness to respect legitimate inquiry while teaching the skill of logic and fact testing -- children and a lot of adults need these to build vigorous, productive minds.

raised on Golden Age SF

So, what is Lehrer's name: Jonah or Shorter? Please examine the content/context of your first paragraph, because I am confused by it. Now, as to curiosity---all things get curioser and curioser (as asserted by Alice)

While it is undoubtedly true that parents color their childrens' views with their own expectations, this is not news, nor is it unexpected. My progenitors are long gone and they did not always act in my best interests---they acted in what they believed WOULD BE my best interests, based upon what worked for them, during their generation. This does not work, and never has worked. Things change too rapidly.

Curiosity has killed some cats. And many people. Devise your own thought experiments about this issue. I'm not getting paid for my OEOs, so, why would I give too much away? Precisely.

Jonah and the whale got shorter shrift than---oh, never mind---this is all too curious. Crabs in a bucket---monkeys in a barrel. AMG* (*German for Oh My God, which means nothing now anyway.)

The educational system stultifies childhood curiousity. Do thousands of children have ATD or a mind numbing learning environment. While science fairs can provide a short term escape they cannot compensate for 9 months of solitary confinement of a child's creative prowess. I spent more time window gazing than at the clickity-clack of chalk impacting the big green board. I recall counting the number of times our HS physics teacher repeated the phrase, "in this particular case", during class lectures. I believe his record was eighteen.

Ken Anderson has covered this topic for a number of years.........

Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson asked that question at the 2006 TED conference. And the talk resonated widely. His short presentation remains one of the most watched and “favorited” videos in TED’s large catalogue of inspiring videos. Quite an accomplishment.

Now, with the latest RSA video, Sir Ken returns to delve deeper into this basic question. He asks, Why do schools kill creativity? And why is this problem built into the modern educational system? And how can we bring a “paradigm” shift – one that will let schools foster creativity at long last?

Correction: ADD

I share your suspicion of fixers who promise to unleash great potential if you just let them break the logjam.

If allowing creativity and independent work were the magic bullet, then we would long since have seen Montessori students excelling beyond our wildest dreams. I like Montessori - sent my sons there - but they draw from the top tier of the population and show marginal, at most, advantage over other students beyond what one would expect after drawing from that crowd.

Smart people look back and resent the lack of freedom they had at school, and are further resentful after reading the biographies of prodigies who seem to have been left alone to develop their own versions of calculus or whatever. They wonder if perhaps they could have done that. Those impressions do not add up to evidence.

Dr. X's comment there is also apropos: we do not appreciate what the limitations of people in general are. People carve out a niche and show competence at something, disguising that they cannot do many things or have an untapped potential for new learning. I adopted two teenagers from Romania, one slightly above average in smarts, one slightly below - and they were worlds different from my first two sons.

Try teaching an unselected, or even more, a refugee class sometime. There are a few who you can see will overcome. But most are simply not ever going to get it, and letting them wander around with atlases or aquaria or a hundred species of beetle in a box isn't going to change that.

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