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The problem with school is that we learn concepts in the opposite way from how we create them.

The problem with school is that we learn concepts in the opposite way from how we create them.

Schools teach compressed concepts before we need them.

That's well and good, but concepts don't work that way: they develop when we encounter just the right dose of chaos: a real need to know. We may not be facing an existential crisis (yet), but any confrontation with unknown territory is its own kind of crisis that activates our fight or flight reaction to some degree. This stress forces us to find a known pattern, invent a new one, or live with the fallout.
But we memorize knowledge in school as if it was etched onto golden tablets passed down from on high: balls are round, trees are green, and we pledge allegiance to the flag

We learn the same facts, rules, and ideas seated comfortably and rather bored that our ancestors learned with terror and ecstasy.

This means of transfer is unavoidable, of course: the advantage of encoding and compressing knowledge is to transfer it into the future with far less pain. All curricula live in conceptual order.

It's complicated to assess any adolescent's ability to struggle and create new knowledge. Creativity isn't quantifiable, and schools run on metrics, so they don't assess it. They teach to the test instead.

Further, kids who naturally have an affinity for emergent order or chaos tend to question the Established Facts; they prefer to try out their own wacky ideas and are less interested in rote learning. In a system fueled by assessments of passed-on, compressed knowledge, these kids are troublemakers by definition. So the reward for going off script in most schools is a trip to the principal's office and poor marks.

But as adults, our culture reveres and rewards scientific and technological disrupters. The "crazy ones."

And there's the problem: when generations of children grow up having their conceptual world endlessly assessed around how well they retain passive, past-on knowledge, they think that's all there is to it.

Most schoolers miss the chance to learn how to invent, which is tragic enough. But it's worse than that: most of us can't even see how invention occurs.

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

~ from
Rob Siltanen
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