Emerging Tech

If you want to innovate like Da Vinci, education is overrated

Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the greatest innovator of all time. Da Vinci's example helps justify Peter Thiel's radical 20 Under 20 fellowship for college dropouts. See why, and the big caveat.

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." -Leonardo da Vinci

I have to admit that I scoffed last week when I read about Peter Thiel's plan to give twenty $100,000 fellowships to budding entrepreneurs under 20 so that they can drop out of school and launch their own startups.

It's not that teenagers don't have great ideas and can't be successful as entrepreneurs. Obviously, they can. My skepticism comes from the fact that Thiel is a venture capitalist and the game that VCs play is to invest in 10 different ideas with the hope that one of them hits it big, while the other nine are likely to fail, morph into something different, or simply fade away.

So, for the 20 kids that Thiel is funding with his flashy fellowship, only two of them are likely to succeed. Where will that leave the other 18 college-skippers? Possibly among the 20% of 20-24 year olds with only a high school diploma who are currently unemployed, according to the US Labor Department.

That was my original thinking.

However, I'm starting to change my tune after coming in contact with the Da Vinci: The Genius traveling exhibit. Based on some lessons from Da Vinci, I think Thiel may be on to something, but there's also one big caveat with this approach.

The Da Vinci example

Leonardo da Vinci (right) is arguably the greatest innovator of all time. He was an artist, a scientist, and an engineer. But, above all, he was an inventor, who laid out plans that were the predecessors of the airplane, the helicopter, the automobile, the tank, the steam engine, the parachute, the submarine, and the underwater diving suit.

He also developed lots of everyday mechanical innovations, including bridges, musical instruments, the hydraulic pump, cranes and construction devices, and a variety of gears and pulleys to streamline a lot of different laborious tasks.

The guy was a volcano of original ideas, but he also had a disciplined scientific mind that enabled him to refine those ideas into detailed plans -- even though most of them were ahead of their time and were never built during his lifetime.

However, in the last couple decades, people have again become fascinated with trying to bring Da Vinci's inventions to life based on his drawings and using 15th century materials. The Da Vinci: The Genius exhibit is centered around these historical replicas of Da Vinci's ideas. This summer the exhibit is in Louisville (which is also the headquarters of the TechRepublic editorial department) and I'm volunteering as a guide in the exhibit. In observing Da Vinci's ideas coming to life, it's hard not to be awed by his creativity, imagination, and raw problem-solving skills. If he lived in the 21st century, he'd probably figure out the energy problem and the space travel propulsion problem, while also developing a true hologram that puts the current 3D scam to shame.

By volunteering in the Da Vinci exhibit I've also had to learn something about the basic Da Vinci bio. What I've learned -- which brings this discussion back to the topic of education and teenage innovators -- was that Da Vinci was an illegitimate child and so he didn't get the classical education that other Renaissance brats got at the time. He wasn't trained in Latin or Greek, which were the languages of all the intellectual texts for art, philosophy, engineering, and science.

Da Vinci didn't learn any of the conventional wisdom of the time and wasn't groomed to enter any of the most influential professions or centers of learning in Renaissance Italy. And yet, he became the greatest intellectual and innovator of his age -- and maybe of any age. How is that possible? How did he do it?

He did it by observing harder than anyone else. He closely observed the laws of nature. He examined the mechanics of animals, especially birds. He looked at the ways people move, interact, and express themselves. He watched the ways people work and thought of mechanical devices that could improve and streamline important tasks.

Then, he took all of those observations and used his voracious imagination to improve on existing tools and to dream up new inventions that could give civilization another nudge forward.

On Sunday, one of the visitors to the Da Vinci exhibit asked me, "If Da Vinci had been tutored in Latin and Greek and gotten a classical education, would he have still come up with all of these inventions?" I threw the ball back into the court of this obviously very-well-educated lady and asked her what she thought. After debating the issue, we both decided, "No." It was not very likely that Da Vinci's imagination would have been as powerful or as prolific if he'd been indoctrinated with the standard ideas of the Greeks and Romans.

Da Vinci: The Genius is a traveling exhibit that is currently making the rounds across the planet.

Throwing a bone to education

Before we completely throw institutionalized education under the bus, let's not forget about two of the favorite modern examples of the drop-out-of-college-and-start-your-own-company approach -- Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook). Yes, both dropped out of Harvard to start a company and eventually became billionaires, but before they went to college both of them got an outstanding education that was certainly a springboard to their later achievements.

Gates was one of the few students of his generation who got access to a full-fledged computer and logged as many, if not more, hours on a computer than any other high school student in America at that time. Zuckerberg cut his teeth as a high schooler at the prestigious Exeter Academy, one of the nation's best private schools, and earned honors in science while learning four languages -- French, ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew -- a pretty social thing to do.

Even Da Vinci himself wasn't completely devoid of education. When he decided to become an artist -- one of the few avenues open to him socially -- he showed enough promise that he was able to earn a 10-year apprenticeship with one of Italy's top artisans, Verrocchio, under whom Da Vinci learned a wide variety of artistic, technical, and mechanical skills.

Final word

Clearly, big time innovators need some kind of decent education to light the fire and launch them on to their atmospheric trajectory. But, there's also a point where they have to step outside of the conventional wisdom and the standard way of doing things in order to turn civilization in a different direction.

Education, by its very nature, is about institutionalizing and sharing the best ideas and best practices of the past -- even if it's the recent past. A college education trains and teaches students how to best plug themselves into the current civilization. Education helps you plug into the things society already needs, to plug into society as it is today. It's not about tomorrow.

Innovation is about what's next. To pull off a big innovation, you almost always have to take a big risk. You have to try something different.

That's why Thiel's program could work. He's looking for up-and-comers with big ideas to solve big problems. The fact that some of these promising students are dropping out of college to pursue big ideas says something in and of itself. These are students willing to take big risks -- the kinds of risks needed to make something big happen. Even if they fail, they'll learn a lot in the process and then probably try another big idea.

This certainly doesn't cancel out the need for education. Society will still need lots of educated people to refine, systematize, and carry forward the work of the next big ideas. But, to find the next Leonardos who can architect the next breakthroughs, we need things like the Thiel fellowship.

And, for those companies, teams, and leaders looking for ways to innovate within their current work, I'll share one last tip from Da Vinci. Remember when I said that Da Vinci basically out-observed everyone in his generation? That was critical. He spent a lot of time observing and figuring out where there were important problems and pain points that could be improved by either iterating or innovating. It's a simple but powerful formula. Lots of organizations could do a better job of carefully observing the best opportunities to target, and then attacking the opportunity with their best ideas.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

132 comments
mike five
mike five

A human resources manager once told me that a degree only certified that you are trainable.

graytmind
graytmind

The first I Pod guys you got it wrong. the first i Pod was in fact as big as a slot machine and was, Named the i Pod firstly because the device was to be used for internet and information so it was just give the letter I and as for the Pod the team came up with the name pod as it was in the inventors eyes a pod like a flower pod full of new life and good ideas. The name of the company was indeed I Pod and was situated in brisbane Australia. and the year was 1995 unfortunately the australian invention was too early in the market. we even had the first online trading post and when we offered to put the printed version online for just a few cents per advert the managing editor told us the internet would not take off as it was just a fad... Even our revenue stream ideas Were so far advanced that even to this day they have not caught up . There is so much that can still be done. it is sad to see tha the great thinkers are not on the ball, With todays wireless tech and infotech competent society There are so many opportunities just waiting to be developed. So I encourage entrepreneurs to go for it. Mind You I can tell you getting a business angel would be a good idea for starters. they weren't there for me or my team. Show Less - Posted by graytmind Jun 09, 2011 @ 4:47 AM (PDT)

syssie
syssie

I quit school (at 17) because thought wasn't allowed to go beyond agreed upon subject matter. I thought that was just insane. I still don't understand how people stop their thoughts at some arbitrary/imaginary boundary. Nor why they would want to.

cosmos-420man
cosmos-420man

it took some education to get to here. When these formally known Tech Critics refer to Gate's and Zuckerberg's education, they are merely going on the fact that they dropped-out of college. None to say the least have they gathered any information as to the rest of their schooling and or courses in other subjects. This is like the same cliche' made towards Einstein and his constant bad marks in Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. But, didn't these aspiring geniuses lead themselves to a certain point in learning, whether it be their own self-educating or one-on-one group sessions and/or so on . . . .

Wilmot McCutchen
Wilmot McCutchen

Reading Plutarch, Plato, Herodotus, Polybius, Livy, and Homer may seem irrelevant to invention, but I believe it helps. The inductive effect of these ancient examples of courage and drive is relevant to the process of conceiving a novel and useful idea and reducing it to practice. Classical education can give some idea of the virtues that support innovation. But heroism is unfashionable these days. Exalting mediocrity and conformist group-think have taken its place, as in the Dark Ages. Instead of leading out a student on a voyage of discovery (educere) current educational theory emphasizes pounding in (educare) enough to pass an exam and get a job to take one's place as a wage slave. Live brave and think bold, like the ancients.

gunnarzdad
gunnarzdad

Perhaps we need less traditional brick and mortar schools and more schools that teach and really inspire innovation. We still need education to teach the basics, but instead of making Western civilization a required class, we should make entrepreneur classes required.

Englebert
Englebert

Let's face it, a lot of people just want to get by their exams, get their degrees and make a lot of $$$. Many of these exam passers just cram stuff into their brains and expunge them the next day. They have absolutely no interest in creativity or innovation. The point of the article is that you have to break free from excessive institutionalized thinking if you're going to produce something innovative. I cannot disagree with this dogma especially when I see hordes and hordes of MBA's, CA's, CFA's, none of whom in their accumulated brain trust could've prevented the recent man-made recession, never mind produce something that would better our lives.

codepoke
codepoke

For every 1:1,000,000 genius out there who might really profit from this idea, there are 999,999:1,000,000 people who've been coddled into thinking they're geniuses. I wish Thiel all the luck in the world figuring out who's whom.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Formal education finishes at school leaving age.Past this it is up to the individual to carry out his/her education in the wider world.Traning should start when leaving school,this maybe in the workplace,trainng establishments but it remains structured with clear out comes.This is up to you..no one else.

jeffpk
jeffpk

Ignorance is not the mother of invention. Ignorance, in fact, causes you to reinvent what has already been done. I see enough of this sort of ignorance IN academia these days, let alone outside of it. There are always prodigies who can self-teach. But it begins with research and an eagerness to absorb everything anyone has to teach you. One of the best engineers I ever knew was self taught. He was also a sponge who actively soaked up every bit of knowledge he could from the studies and experiences of the school taught people around him. Minds like that are rare. Creativity is not the result of ignorance. Creativity is the result of knowing what has been done before and then asking "why is it done that way?" and "is there another way to look at it?" Questioning the common wisdom is key to invention, but to do that you must first know what the common wisdom is and the history of why it became common.

jeffpk
jeffpk

Its exploitative as hell... (1) 100,000 is not a lot of money. Yes, for a college kid he can probably live on it for a couple of years. Then what? (2) I assume these aren't grants. Hes not going to fund these kids to develop something and sell it to someone else. As is usual for Vulture Capitalists, for this relatively small investment he'll own most of the result. (3) They will be lucky if 2 of these kids get rich. And the rest? what will they do with an unfinished college degree? Maybe they can work for a DaVinci and dig canals. If someone had offered me this in college i probably would have taken it. And I'd probably be sorry now I did.

Uber Geek
Uber Geek

There are many programs that if instituted across the education system could increase the ability of students to think critically and creatively. The best, brightest and most gifted can get help from the Davidson Institute Some of their scholarship recipients have done amazing work at an early age: http://www.davidsongifted.org/fellows/Article/Davidson_Fellows___2010_427.aspx For a more mainstream way to teach creative thinking, you could get your local schools to start an Odyssey of the Mind team or get a Destination Imagination team together: http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/ http://www.destinationimagination.org/ The best thing to do to help fix the issues facing education in the United States today is NOT to lay blame, point fingers, or complain, but rather to use those feelings to motivate you to make a change by volunteering to help the schools start a program that can help teach the critical and creative thinking skills that are currently being overlooked.

Ralph Smith
Ralph Smith

Thanks for the history lesson and providing the setting. But what OF those 18?

ssnedd
ssnedd

as far as i know it, these paper qualifications are there for one thing - cover ass. employers gonna look for ppl who got papers to cover more angles to their arses. when shit happens, employers got their ass covered cos they hired paper qualified proletariats, no prizes guessing who's got the blame. and by golly, education's but a tool to supply the economy with working class ppl. Innovation cant be 'taught' like some package used in educating people. cant expect geniuses to pour out of campuses, shits just to mainstream. article's damn right, you just gotta look and observe things and think, for yourself..and not be told how to think it. Risk here's of course whether you're willing to step out of the 'ad populous' convention and face shit on your own. make or break, well i suppose its why we never get so many geniuses anyway.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

The trouble is a broken system. The employer wants some external validation the applicant knows something. The assumption is that the applicant can't tie his own shoes. The educational system has the ability to issue the validation the employer wants, but this validation does not mean the information presented was relevant or that the student retained it. The certification industry bypasses the learning part and simply test the applicant's knowledge. The certification does not guarantee suitability, nor that the applicant knows anything... just that they passed the test. We need a new method of learning... something like a Montessori learning model for IT. The information will be retained because it is part of a learning experience with personal context, and the degree or cert will mean something because of this.

sperry532
sperry532

DaVinci was indeed educated. He had 10+ years of apprenticeship training. That IS education and his was a broad-spectrum one at that. During the 50's, 60's, and some of the 70's, young people attended Vocational Technology Schools or Vo-Techs. These schools and programs were essentially modern apprenticeships. They provided the students a solid path towards become plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics, draftsmen, and more. The focus was on the doing of the job, not on the esoterica of traditional education. For example, the math skills taught were directly related to the job and field. Many of the graduates got reasonably good-paying jobs. Vo-Tech has been pretty much eliminated from the modern education system(s), much to America's detriment.

eoschlotz
eoschlotz

I think the experiment is a great idea. I hope the recipients understand they are making a decision that takes them down a path. The un-innovative and un-creative people who work in HR are only able to look at degrees and certifications to screen out as many people as possible. So I'm proud of these brave non-conformists who reject the status quo and trust their own skill rather than a degree. And to Mr. Davis, as far as I can tell most of his inventions were completely original, because no one had been thinking along the same lines he was (that advantage of not being polluted by conventional education). And, as far as I can tell, based on years of study of that historical period, most of his inventions were truly innovative.

HarryGalbraith
HarryGalbraith

This reminds me of the time when I had a phone interview with a job applicant. The company's education requirements were clear, yet the job applicant took issue with the college degree requirement. He pointed out that Jesus did not have the equivalent of a degree from a college-like institution and He made a significant contribution to mankind. My memory may not be completely accurate, but I think that I told him he could have the job if he could have God write him a letter of recommendation. The point I was trying to make was pretty simple. The probability of that job applicant being the modern day equivalent of Jesus was pretty low. While the college degree would not guarantee the success of a job applicant, it at least increased the probability of success. I believe there is a low probability of there being even one living person that can achieve the innovative level of Da Vinci. It is rare enough that we see innovation at the level of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others that we hold in high esteem. I think it may be dangerous for us to motivate young people to avoid college and try to emulate the likes of Da Vinci. Over a decade or two, we may see one or two that reach the level of a Steve Jobs, but the majority are likely to have wasted many years of potentially productive intellectual growth. I suspect that the loss of that intellectual growth would surpass the value we might realize from one or two great achievers. At any rate, I seriously doubt we will ever see the likes of Da Vinci again. Let's keep motivating young people to go to college and try to change our educational system to better support the innovative process.

Marcthehat
Marcthehat

From the original article "Education, by its very nature, is about institutionalizing" - modern society is about 'institutionalizing'. Most people are capable of innovation in one form or another, however modern society (govenrnents ((and education)), multi-nationals etc. etc.) generally seek to limit the free thinking that can lead to innovation, as this is a risk to their status quo. So I believe that it is most likely that all the great innovators (I will leave the arguments as to who is great to others) either were not aware of the rules or choose to ignore or 'cheat' them. We are educated in rules (as researched/published by others) on nature, the universe, society, technology etc. but strangly many of these rules have been re-written over time. Most of us live in societies that have a plethora of rules on every aspect of how we live, leaving very few people in exalted position or field where we are allowed to innovative and be supported in its development, and I am concerned that the capability to ignore or 'cheat' the rules is being beaten out of us. initially by education and then through the rest of our lives. I don't know where we go from here

mf001
mf001

I don't know about you guys, but across the pond we get bombarded with dodgy theories from 'educationalists'. You may have them over there too. They claim to have guided education over the last forty years, during which we have seen standards sink like a stone in government-funded primary (5-11) and secondary education (12-18). Tertiary education has been grossly over-expanded to keep kids off the unemployed stats, and standards have performed in line with those in the primary and secondary fields. I have one simple question. Is an Educationalist to Education as an Islamist is to Islam? I welcome your views.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Learning by watching nature is called 'science.' Attending school to get a certificate is called 'education' or academia.' That process involves giving the 'correct' answers back to the 'teachers.' Read Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolution. 'Innovation' by definition, is something new, not the same old same old. You want to learn quantum mechanics--get a degree. If you want to learn how the world of physics really works, question the entire assumption of quantum mechanics (but don't expect to get a degree). /* Physicists act like it's an insight when their equations collapse after a measurement is taken, however, they start with the full probability space of all measurements so they shouldn't be surprised about what happens in that space when a measurement is finally taken. Duh. */ Earth science has completely rejected Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis. Any real scientist needs to at least read it before attempting to reject it because it seems absurd. /* Any biologist or earth systems scientist whjo claims the control structure for Gaia cannot possibly exist ought to first explain to a bartender (the true test of understanding) the control structures for 1. a single cell and 2. a tree as an organism and the single leaf cells it contains. */ True education is looking at the world as it is. An academic or social education is pretty much just telling people what they want to hear.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this discussion. I'm very impressed by all of the well thought-out replies (even the ones I disagree with). There are some great perspectives and feedback that have definitely expanded my views on this topic. This is what makes TechRepublic great -- a lot of smart people who are eager to have constructive conversations about important topics. So, thank you!

Myrna Ayarza
Myrna Ayarza

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts. I have always believed all talents combine make the big difference in society. Great ideas might come from someone dedicated to creating as Thiel??s 20 under 20 team; or it might just come from someone who is performing a constant manual task with not much education, but some experience. Education has its place, experience has its place and inquisitive minds have their place. Great ideas need to be practical and executable. Therefore we need the thinkers, the educated, the experienced. We need them all.

m_bisen
m_bisen

The world is filled with opportunists so if youngsters are given an avenue to innovate and make a fortune and for that they have to leave their school...whats wrong.....its always better to make most of it at the right time then to realize late in the years, what did I gain or rather give back to society after going through formal years of schooling.Ideas are nothing but product of brain generated by mapping,networking and connecting unexpected.So any time in life if one gets to turn the idea into working thing..great...Because Education can stop but Learning can never stop...humans are made to be like that...Agree?

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Without government or corporate backing it won't matter. Da Vinci was successful in dreaming up designs, but what of implementation? Babbage couldn't make the machine he designed because the materials and fabrications were not available. I'd say that for all the hype, Da Vinci wasn't all that successful: Yes, he left us some nice paintings and all, but he never built a working helicopter. It's sort of like a science fiction writer dreaming up the Warp Drive. Even if you do innovate -- and I've had a few, like the Jail Chaplain Library System and Integrated Voice Response for Permits (absolutely advanced beyond what anyone else could do at the time by combining the IBM Mainframe VTAM, TCP/IP, dynamic screen system generator over the network with Berkley Sockets to the HP3000 MPE i/X System using C and Cobol to access the network database) -- you may find, as I did, that someone else will take the credit. If you want to innovate, do it on your own time and hope you can connect with the public. Here's an idea for you innovators -- and you could make plenty of money at it: Create a visual drag and drop mega menu GUI designer using pure css: Sort of like Artiseer, but with mega menus. Make sure it will integrate with Windows Visual Studio, Wordpress, HTML, PHP, Adobe Dreamweaver, Joomla, Drupal, Blogger, DotNetNuke and CodeCharge Studio. Since none of you can do that, I'll take it on... eventually. Two or three years should do it. Oh, and by the way, you should build in dynamic tabbed panels as well. Good luck with that.

jtroop
jtroop

Da Vinci was a great dreamer, but then again, how many inventions during his time period were there? It is one thing to draw something on paper, it is a totally different thing to actually make it a reality, or true working piece that performs a function. I do not think Da Vinci could have solved any of the problems you mentioned in this article. He was lucky that at the time period he was alive, there just were not a lot of things invented in the course of history yet. If I draw a lot of things that have not been invented yet, and they are found a couple of hundred years from now, does that make me a great inovator??

Sarel Theron
Sarel Theron

Go to the site Innovation Exchange ... $50,000 plus for innovative ideas for corporates ... In South Africa ... due to past circumstance and present economics we have massive drop-outs ... here we use the term `Street wise' for entrepreneurs who strive to succeed without formal education ... if you do not have a degree you have massive challenges to get funding so you have to be street wise and a hustler to succeed ... So Innovation Exchange is a great entry site with no risk to see if one has what it takes .... This is one challenge; "The challenge 'Heat resistant packaging to keep food cool' is ending - and they still need your help! Your idea captured in a 1-2 page document may be all it takes for you to claim this reward. If you have already submitted a solution and want to amend it with any additional information or insight, make sure you post your revised solution by June 3, 2011. " ... I like it and use it and have come close to providing acceptable solutions ... a lot of fun with big rewards ...

prdenize
prdenize

With a little bit of education you know a "little about a lot" of topics. The more formal education you get the more specialized you become in your range of topics. In other words a person with a PhD would know a "lot about a little". Therefore formal University education by definition would inhibit someone's ability to "create" outside the narrow band of expertise. Marconi the inventor of wireless couldn't change a car tyre, but could invest wireless communication. However (I believe) it was a mathematician Maxwell who theorized that electricity could exist as a radio wave. Maybe innovation requires a combination on the geeks and the marketeers. In the Microsoft situation Gates AND Allen started the Microsoft Company. Allen in is stated was then alleged "shafted" by Gates who had the vision and ruthlessness to stomp over the opposition and put other companies out of business. The Facebook story appears to be another example.. Successful people aren't always the nice guy. Gates appears to be spending billions on "save the world projects", maybe to purge the guilt. Now that Apple is making a "killing" is Steve Jobs a nicer person.. maybe not! Moral of the story. Before becoming rich you may want to examine WHY you want to have all the Loot. In the real world monopoly game the winner isn't always the nice guy!

doctordawg
doctordawg

Leonardo had an incredibly wealthy secular sponsor. He and other Florentine innovators stood out because the Church had no sway in their lives as long as the Medici kept their distance from Rome. Once the "Bonfire of the Vanities" swept away so much wealth and crushed so many secularist endeavors, Florence returned to superstitious church drivel, and anyone proposing man could fly was burned as a heretic. The same thing is happening now, except that the Church is now Wall Street and the innovations they demand center around profit, not usefulness. I guarantee if one of these 20 bright kids invents a free substitution for Plavix and Lipitor, he will win no prizes.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

This is a very well discussed topic.The outstanding issue is can we train anyone to be innovative? No, innovators are a summation of nature and nurturer.Education will help some understand the subject matter to push forward the boundaries whilst others have no desire to take the risk or ridicule of innovation.Innovation carries 90% failure and less than ten percent success.It is governed by practical perceptive rules of thinking which only a few can conceptualize..Latest thinking is that successful innovators have higher than average grey matter areas in the brain.People who are dyslexic are known to process these traits and it is likely Leonardo was severely dyslexic.

Colinza
Colinza

Hi Jason, A great article! I became a real Da Vinci fan back in the late 80s when I attended a similar exhibition in London. The models were amazingly constructed with an impressive flying machine above the exit hall. The cabinets of mostly tiny - manuscripts were endless and the attention to detail of the subject matter truly amazing. Most of the manuscripts were from the Queens collection. It displayed a kind of logical methodical process combined with wild freedom. He must have been completely possessed with the desire to express his thoughts I guess not having the world cup or mindless TV movies to distract him did help! Interesting your question - would he have achieved as much if given the classic education of the day? Well, ponder this, thousands did receive that, possibly, dogmatic education and none rose to the heights he reached not even close. I guess the key is translating education into wisdom. This reminds of the Paul Simon song: "When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, its a wonder I can think at all. But my lack of education never hurt me none, cause I can read the writing on the wall" But still it has to start with the fire inside he must have had an inferno in his brain.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

1) You don't. 2) You can't. 3) Who're you kidding? 4) Not me, that's for certain. 5) If you have to ask... A one i 100000000000 (one hundred billion) genius like ol' Leo isn't built. It just is - or was, as it were. Will there be another? Maybe Einstein was another, but these days we have a burden of knowledge far greater than that of Da Vinci's time, and specialization has become hard to avoid - so we have no Einsteins behind glass at the Louvre. That's another thing, not learning the official truth of Da Vinci's time wasn't necessarily an obstacle, back in that day universities schooled clergy, and schooled them with Aristotle. And Aristotle, being utterly wrong, was holding people back for centuries. I also call into question the dark fate of the 18 of the 20 who stochastically will not succeed. Bear in mind that most dropouts drop out for far more insurmountable reasons than a hundred grand. These guys can continue their education at any time, even alongside work. Except for wounds to the ego, they're not likely to suffer any ill effects from being given an opportunity like this. Wounds to the ego can be serious enough, though.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

He's right that as you move up the education you tend to become less earth shattering in your thinking. As aptly said by Santee, overrated is not unnecessary or not recommended. He's not using a new innovative business model. This is the same old Silicon Valley VC model of the 1990's except he's gotten free buzz from the press with his "under 20" schtick added on to the old model and the anti-college slant plays well against the college expense bubble in today's economy just like engineering and applied science was a bad word back in the late 60's and early 70's. On the other hand he's wrong about the under 20 bit. I'd suggest to him he should do some breakthrough thinking of his own and give five or so of the grants to people over 50. He may find, as I have, that there's as much innovation at that age as under twenty. Maybe not the brute inexperienced energy and long hours, maybe not the wisdom to avoid Thiel raping you financially as a VC if your idea succeeds, but certainly the spark innovation is there among the oldsters. Oldsters maybe even more important since the demographics of the Internet are changing and using experience to cut time to market may actually be a new paradigm shift. I'd also suggest he steer away from Silicon Valley and the Ivy Leagues. They'll get the grants from rich schools and money from relatives. The big opportunity is maybe among the Hispanics and other growing minorities, since they now are the new majority in the Western hemisphere.

pete20r2
pete20r2

Do you know the volume of patents recieved by the USPTO that amount to perpetual motion machines? There are so many that they don't bother arguing, they just say "OK" and take your money. This is the result of lack of education, any 10th grader can tell you that you can't just generate energy from nothing. I like to argue by employing extreme examples, so here it is: Suppose a person is entirely un-educated, this includes common knowledge, which is still knowledge and must be learned all the same. How would they have even the slightest chance of say, inventing the wing, they would have no knowledge of, pressure, thrust, forces, reactions, vectors. They would in effect have to 'waste' time by re discovering all of these things. Say then that the wing has not been invented but everything ever known about fluid dynamics is known by some particularly learned person. It only takes a spark of his imagination to create the wing. He (or she :) only needs to have one fantastic thought and they can immediatly see how it could be viable, "yes, a pressure differential would create a force" , or "redirecting air downwards would impose a reaction force and thrust the wing in the opposite direction". Now there have been many fluke discoveries, but they only become useful when they are understood. PTFE or 'Teflon' can be stretched into tape but only is it is done very rapidly. This was discovered when a scientist got angry because he couldn't stretch it slowly and grabbed a piece and ripped at it, but is didn't break. He then explained this with molecular theory and this is how PTFE sheets and tape are produced today. Sure you can go it alone, but I think it would be foolish to disregard the wealth of knowledge that we already have.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Many MBA's have been miss sold.If you have an MBA under 35 you are unlikely to use it,you and the employers have wasted their time.The chances of an exception in this rule is like finding hens teeth! Forget this unless you have natural business skills...just get good at what you do.You will get wealthy and enjoy life.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Too many nouns, positioned as little static pieces, in your set-piece.

jeffpk
jeffpk

Why didn't I hear about this fellowship when I was young? and how do they choose recipients?

keeneydj
keeneydj

Everyone has a diploma/degree these days... It's a cookie cutter paper that shows you survived 12-16 years of institutionalized BS. Can you sit in a desk for 8 hours straight? Can you do the same thing day in and day out? Are you physically capable of walking for 5 minutes 7 times a day? Will you land a high social status with the rest of the goons grouped with you? These are the things that get guaranteed by these papers. I didn't see the valedictorian of our class again until 6 years after we graduated. I found her with a masters in business, working the overnight shift at the corner store. And no, it wasn't her store. The paperwork we get today means nothing. Too many have been signed, too many have been given unearned. Getting a degree means nothing these days other than you will take the whip as long as needed. You don't stand out. About the only certs left in the US that are worth a dang are the trade school certifications. At least you might learn something in a tiny class working on something very specific. Hardly anyone has specialized trade certifications. I'll tell you this much though. If you take a class to get your MECP certification, the flashy car modification jobs come easy. That right there is money to start some other dream. No, that's not what I do, just an example. I guess we could sum this up with: Never stop working on your dream. It's always been 'who' you know, not 'what' you know. Someone will always have to vouch for you. So, get out there and talk to people. LEARN from them, then show off. THEN, and only then, someone might notice you.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

is having someone to talk to. Like Einstein had a good friend from the patent office, not a genius himself, but in talking to him, Einstein may have been able to formulate his thoughts for himself too. That's speculation of course, but sometimes the lone wolf really needs to howl with a pack, be it ever so small.

santeewelding
santeewelding

That's twice, now; twice too many. It has its use, but only now and a great while later, if ever. Like Imelda, who would not be caught dead wearing the same shoes twice. You risk the fastening.

santeewelding
santeewelding

"Overrated". He did not say, unnecessary. He covered his ass. You don't.

Wilmot McCutchen
Wilmot McCutchen

If not Plato, what? Caesar? Hesiod? Limit of 5 for the Western classical canon?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

You're right. And it's more than two. I'll give that one up for Lent. Some people get a nasty rash when I say "statistically" though... But wait, are you saying Imelda was right about that?

pete20r2
pete20r2

Yes I know, and I still disagree with him, education is underrated, globally.

santeewelding
santeewelding

To God bless Jason for hosting and putting up with our wayward, hijacking_shit.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

is to savour. Or in other words, if less is more, none is all.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Is that, for instance, go ahead and get deeply into God, without ever using the word. I promise you: it is an exercise. I learn much in that way, myself.

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