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Greg Jones

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Is a classical education, a prerequisite for innovation?

Is a classical education, a prerequisite for successful, meaningful, or useful innovation? Or does it only apply to certain narrow forms of innovation, or not at all? Can literally anyone have a piece of the so called American dream, or does it require years of classical education?


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    Dec 16 2013: As an old professor, the answer is clearly no. Innovation is the result of inspiration and perspiration. But I have known many very rich and innovative people who couldn't form a coherent sentence. A good "liberal arts" or classical education will make a person well rounded, more worldly, and, frankly, more interesting. Not much more.

    I must point out, however, innovation often builds on existing technology. Without the knowledge of that technology innovation fails. If I could have handed Ben Franklin a cell phone, do we suppose he could have built another by the end of his life? No, all of the technology of that device is built on technology previously innovated by some one else. Without a knowledge of that previous innovation the next step becomes impossible. Finally, I would point out that universities are where we keep that knowledge to pass on to others.
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      Dec 17 2013: You certainly convey your own valuable experience, with this wisely worded reply, thanks for taking the time to join my debate.
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      Dec 17 2013: Thanks Greg for this great question...

      Jim Guild, While I agree with your initial statements regarding innovation and inspiration building through synthesis, I would challenge your your last statement regarding Universities keeping and passing on knowledge.which implies wisdom too.

      On balance, what universities spread is embodied in the state of our economies, society and environment. Take inventory and tell me we are leaving a world as robust or healthy as we received it? I'm 64, a grandfather and long time environmentalist (almost 4 decades) and I can say unequivocally that we have collectively undermined future generations in every endeavor that has largely grown out of 'higher education'. David Orr points this out exceedingly well in his book, Earth in Mind and a recent talk he gave at the Schumacher college in England. http://www.postcarbon.org/person/36209-david-orr#
      I highly recommend it.
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        Dec 17 2013: thanks Craig, I will check it out

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