Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Curiosity is a delicate little plant that, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom." - Albert Einstein

Having researched many quotes only to find that good ones tend to get credited to famous people (maybe because that lends them more credence), I have no idea if Einstein really said this, but here's a fuller version of the quote attributed to him:
It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry: for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom: without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly.
Extending freedom is much easier in theory than in practice, in large part because of the time involved in helping those whose freedom you are supporting. Coercion is faster... in the moment.

The time savings of coercion are an illusion, as the consequences of unwinding human capacity from a lifetime of coercion are even more significantly time consuming. That is, if you even get the chance to, since the personal and social consequences of coercive societies are often permanently damaging.

I feel like I have the following conversation almost every day. To the sandwich-maker at our local Subway store, a sweet girl who's a senior at our local high school. "What are you going to do next year?" "College, I guess," she says. She then says she'll probably end up at the local community college. "What do you want to study?" She names a technical field. "But I haven't taken the test, I probably won't get in the program." "When are the tests given?" I ask. "I don't know," she says, "I'm sure I'll fail the test."


We've so squandered the potential of generations of kids by allowing them to leave high school believing they are failures. This sweet girl is not alone, she sadly represents MILLIONS of people who have no idea how to work on leading productive lives. If you measure a system by its outcome, our education system teaches one lesson really well: you're not very smart.

We've robbed healthy students of a "voraciousness" they should have to manage their own lives.

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