[TriLUG] OT: Education
jonc at nc.rr.com
Sun Sep 25 20:20:55 EDT 2005
On Sat, 2005-09-24 at 21:21, Scott Chilcote wrote:
> Jon Carnes wrote:
> > I think it clearly shows that those folks who most willing and anxious
> > to work hard don't have time to spend learning "old ideas" in school.
> > They are too busy inventing their own light bulbs.
> > ... And they have learned the secret that success is built on the
> > shoulders of thousands of attempts (not thousands of books read).
> > School is a very traditional way of learning, but the entrepreneur
> > doesn't have the patience for that pace, and the knowledge they want to
> > learn is more rapidly gained by doing.
> Good Lawd, this bothers me.
> How do you know what an "old idea" is, unless you find out where people
> have already been? I wish I was 25% as smart as some of the folks who
> came up with a lot of the antiquated notions we take for granted.
> Recall the saying "people who ignore history are doomed to repeat it"...?
> I can't imagine an entrepreneurially minded person making progress in
> any of today's scientific fields without referring to the vast body of
> accumulated knowledge we have for guidance. There may be a handful of
> people who succeed without it, but I'd compare them to the handful of
> people who win multi-millions in state lotteries. A vast sea of tickets
> are bought for every individual winner.
> I think the statement above confuses the term "traditional" with
> concepts that at first seem similar, such as "best practices" or
> "successful approaches" - means of learning that have not only worked
> well, but have been continually improved over decades. If you look at
> how a successful school like MIT produces scientists now, you'll find it
> looks nothing like what universities were doing twenty years ago.
> There are some people who are so clever and intelligent they can teach
> themselves more effectively, but they already know who they are. For
> everyone else, I strongly recommend taking a serious look before casting
> higher education aside with visions of "Unseen University".
> Scott C.
I'll right. I'll keep playing...
A good basic education is a great advantage. The better and broader it
is, the greater your foundation for launching your endeavors. Once you
move beyond that base however and begin to specialize - class room
learning can be too slow a pace.
I once learned an entire semester of Thermodynamics in one long weekend
spent in the library. Folks can learn rapidly when properly motivated.
They don't have to cow-tow to the lowest common denominator. When
something becomes "relevant" to them, they learn it faster and better.
Two years ago my partner and I needed to draw up sophisticated
predictions for our business (inventory levels, marketing analysis,
staffing levels, etc). We basically taught ourselves a Masters in
Business over the course of about two weeks. We used common sense (our
broad basic educations), business books, as well as many other
resources. And now we do the job better than most folks with actual
Entrepreneurs are not against traditional education! They just don't
need to be spoon fed that education a bit at a time. They are constantly
"referring to the vast body of accumulated knowledge we have for
In fact the prevalence of practical information contained in Open Source
areas, make innovation much easier.
And other point in favor of using the School of Hard Knocks (as opposed
to pursuing a traditional Masters/PhD route), is that sometimes you end
up inventing a whole new wheel (or merely a new wheel part) that is more
effective than what is traditionally practiced by similar industries.
I'm constantly amazed at some of the convoluted ways our competition
does certain processes. They seem to be sleep walking through their
days. They even ignore their customers who pull them in the direction of
The answer is never "no". Though sometimes the answer is a $ followed by
some large number.
Innovative scientists don't innovate when they join a team.... and how
much of their innovation do they lose when they merely log in hours at a
university rather than actually tackling the problems they want to
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