Monday, January 27, 2014

Trying to Kill the Eccentrics

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." - Thoreau

A man I met a few months ago told me recently, "You're crazy, aren't you?" I've heard that before, one than once. It mystifies me, because I consider myself to be relatively sane and many other people deluded and asleep.

A fair number of people considered me weird when I was a kid.

I recently read an article about the relationship between eccentricity and creativity. It turns out there is one, and it's not a slight one, either. It's a big one.

Let's take Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. (His father was Jack Kamen, an illustrator for "Mad, Weird Science" and other EC Comics publications.)

He has a whole slew of other inventions (440 patents), and is an eccentric man. He wears denim all the time. He lives on an island, which he says has seceded and which he calls North Dumpling. He issues his own currency in units of pi, which bears the likeness of Kamen. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s are the Ministers of Ice Cream, while other others hold such titles as Minister of Brunch and Minister of Nepotism.

Adam Smith, he of The Wealth of Nations, was also considered eccentric. He would go for long walks at night, thinking and imagining, and once fell into a ditch. He was comically absent-minded and often talked to himself.

What almost all of the "geniuses" have in common is that they are introverted, intelligent, imaginative - and somewhat schizoid. They were round pegs in square holes. Were. And are.

Of course these people never fit in public schools. While some people (and it tends to be the highlight of their lives, like Hank Hill and Al Bundy) enjoyed public schools, those who advance society tend to be the ones who society tries to reject.

"One striking feature of people who are at the healthier end of the schizoid spectrum is their great capacity for creativity. Perhaps that capacity to disregard convention is adaptive for creative pursuits," writes Barry Gilbert, MD. "The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who made many creative contributions to his field, is said to have been schizoid. The British psychoanalyst Harry Guntrip and American psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan have both written movingly about their growing understanding of their own schizoid nature."

These kind of people are better off being raised with mentors, and being home-schooled.

Thomas Edison was home-schooled, having been thrown out of public school. So was Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Ditto Theodore Roosevelt, Agatha Christie, Florence Nightingale, Pearl Buck, Alexander Graham Bell, Louisa May Alcott, Mozart, and Robert Frost.

I consider the public schools to be brain-washing factories. It works on a lot of people. Others, it doesn't work at all and instead attempts to unwittingly destroy them.

For one thing, these days, these kids are considered so disruptive they are given psychiatric drugs to chemically lobotomize them. I wonder what would have happened to thr people listed above if they had been forced to stay in public school and had their brains even more warped with drugs?

That what I mean by trying to kill the eccentrics.

I know a 16-year-old girl who can no longer tolerate high school. She skips all the time. She is bright, imaginative, creative, and introverted. She tells me school is boring, she doesn't like the kids (most of whom she considers loud and stupid) and in the state she lives in the police can arrest the parents if their kids miss enough school.

When I asked her, "School is unbearably boring, right? You don't like most of the kids? It has no meaning, importance and community?" she looked shocked. "Someone understands!" I told her she was not alone and to think about dropping out and getting a GED, then going to college. She's already taken the SAT and scored in the top five percent.

Today, I think the vast majority of kids who grow up happy, healthy and whole are going to be the ones home-schooled. The public schools are now catastrophes for the smart and creative. Maybe they always have been.


Anonymous said...

Great post, public schools aren't about building knowlege and useful skills and never have been. One minor point would be that Thomas Edison attended a church school, as public schools weren't nationwide at that point. He was homeschooled by his beloved mother, a very intelligent and innovative woman, as he had a lousy father. I think Nancy Edison is what you would call an example of positive feminine.

Glen Filthie said...

We have allowed pooch screwing union slobs to pose as professionals and take charge of our children. The blame for this lies with us, not with them. They are what they are - and as parents it is our duty to defend the kids from them. If you haven't tried to educate your own kids - you should. You would be shocked at how much they can do, and how little the school system demands of them.

The fact is that if you have a bright child - the schools CAN'T look after them even if they wanted to. Your average teacher is a graduate of a mickey mouse university program and almost certainly comes from the wrong side of the academic bell curve. Such things were not permitted in Laura Ingalls' day.