Nickel van der Vorm

Nickel van der Vorm
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Waarom een creatief genie de school haat…

11 juli 2012

Nickel van der Vorm

Geplaatst in: Partnerschap, Samenleving,

Thomas Edison stelde vast dat de grootste zegen in zijn leven het feit was dat hij geen regulier onderwijs had genoten. De leraar van Beethoven vertelde aan zijn ouders dat hij te stom was om componist te worden. En de vader en moeder van Isaac Newton is verteld dat hun zoon de meest vervelende student was die zij ooit hadden gezien. Het lijkt erop dat creatieve genieën niet helemaal pasten in het onderwijsstelsel dat was – en nog steeds is geconstrueerd.  Michael Michalko zocht naar meer voorbeelden en deelt uitspraken en de gedachten over onderwijs van Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw en Richard Feynman.

Thomas Edison once said that his greatest blessing in life was his lack of a formal education. Had he been educated, he said, he would have realized that what he accomplished was not possible to do. Beethoven’s teachers told his parents that he was too stupid to be a composer and Isaac Newton’s parents were told by his teachers that he was the most unlikely student they ever had. It seems one commonality that creative geniuses have is their contempt for public education. Following are the thoughts of three of our most highly-acclaimed creative geniuses about school.

ALBERT EINSTEIN. Biographer Albrecht Fölsing’s book Albert Einstein: A Biography (New York: Viking, English translation 1997) records Einstein’s general high ability in school, which was coupled with a disdain for compulsion and a tendency to do things his own way. Einstein remembered his schooling in both Germany and Switzerland as an unhappy experience, contrary to the recollections of several of his less famous classmates. Yet he got good scores in school subjects when he wanted to, but spent much of his free time at home building with construction model sets or reading serious books about science. Einstein attributed the school problems he sometimes had to an unwillingness to do the work required by his teachers. Thus Einstein, despite the well-documented childhoodspeech delay in his language development, is best not retrospectively “diagnosed” as learning disabled, but rather regarded as an exceptionally bright, self-motivated learner who refused to waste his time with school activities that did not produce a high return in learning.

In Einstein’s own words:

. . . I worked most of the time in the physical laboratory [at the Polytechnic Institute of Zürich], fascinated by the direct contact with experience. The balance of the time I used in the main in order to study at home the works of Kirchoff, Helmholtz, Hertz, etc. . . . In [physics], however, I soon learned to scent out that which was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things which clutter up the mind and divert it from the essential. The hitch in this was, of course, the fact that one had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect [upon me] that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.

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 wreck 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.” (“Autobiographical Notes,” in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, Paul Schilpp, ed. (1951), pp. 17-19 © 1951 by the Library of Living Philosophers, Inc.)

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW expresses his contempt for education in  “A Treatise on Parents and Children,” preface to Misalliance (1909), reprinted in Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, volume IV (1972), page 35.

“. . . and there is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is in some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders (who of course would not be warders and governors if they could write readable books), and beaten or otherwise tormented if you cannot remember their utterly unmemorable contents. In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to the turnkeys discoursing without charm or interest on subjects that they don’t understand and don’t care about, and are therefore incapable of making you understand or care about. In a prison they may torture your body; but they do not torture your brains; and they protect you against violence and outrage from your fellow-prisoners. In a school you have none of these advantages. With the world’s bookshelves loaded with fascinating and inspired books, the very manna sent down from Heaven to feed your souls, you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a school book, written by a man who cannot write: A book from which no human can learn anything: a book which, though you may decipher it, you cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt will make you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life.”

RICHARD FEYNMAN. A number of recent books have been written about the colorful life of Feynman, one of the younger and more crucial members of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb for the Allies during World War II, and member of the special commission that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.

Lees verder 

Michael Michalko is the author of the highly acclaimed Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius; ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work.

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