Monday, September 11, 2006

It'll never work. You must be nuts.

"College isn't the place to go for ideas."
- Helen Keller

Grade school was designed to produce workers who would follow rules obediently and adhere to the dictates of the (mostly industrial magnates) establishment of the 19th century. College was designed to catch those who managed to escape the clutches of the sculptors of the common man of the times.

Not a great deal has changed.

Helen Keller agreed, as do a large proportion of people who passed through college then went on to postgraduate studies. And those who couldn't hack it in school, dropped out and became millionnaires in something school could never prepare them for.

In many colleges marks are awarded for agreeing with the instructor. Higher marks are granted for making a strong argument for the instructor's way of thinking on assigned papers. Any student who dares to contradict the instructor or (gasp!) prove him wrong or incompetent may have a rocky future ahead of him.

Does this mean that college should be avoided? Not at all. A truly creative and industrious person needs to know what the vast majority of people experience, know and believe, so that he will understand why he must accept himself as being clearly different from the rest. If you don't know what the norms are, you can't know how far you stray away from them.

Ideas? They can come from daydreams, from coffee conversations with a friend, from an all-nighter bull session with peers or from graffiti on a bathroom stall wall.

Of one thing you may be certain if you have a good idea: most people will dislike it or think you must be crazy. If somebody doesn't hate your idea or think you must be daft, your idea likely isn't much good. To grow, you need opposition.

No one slides easily up the mountain.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show you that opposition is a good thing, at least sometimes.
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