Tom McLaughlin: Genius and Schools

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Tom McLaughlin: Genius And Schools
Tue, 03/12/2013 - 6:20am
Posted by tommclaughlin

Did I need college to become a teacher? Yes and no. Yes, because college degrees were required for a teaching license. No, because it took time to unlearn university thought patterns that inhibited good teaching.

Colleges in the late 20th century and early 21st can be stultifying, especially for highly-intelligent and imaginative people. I do not claim to be such a person, but I’m smart enough to recognize that some brilliant Americans kept themselves unencumbered by formal education and the rest of us benefited. Two well-known examples are Thomas Edison and Bill Gates, but a couple of local examples are illustrative as well: Philo Farnsworth and Rufus Porter.

Edison and Gates need no introduction, nor any description of what resulted from their genius. Philo Farnsworth and Rufus Porter are less well-known and both have connections here in western Maine where I live: Farnsworth invented the electronic television and held over 300 patents. Porter is best known as a painter of portraits and murals, but he was a prolific inventor as well. His inventions include the revolving rifle, the rights to which he sold to Samuel Colt who then became famous for producing the first revolver handguns. He designed, built, and flew an airship 240 feet long and founded Scientific American magazine.

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