Monday, May 30, 2005

Dropping out or getting on with life?

I'm working on a longer essay on education choice but this seemed too timely to wait.

Break from the herd

(Registration is required.)

Bill Gates did it. So did Brad Pitt, Michael Dell and Louis Armstrong.

07:07 PM CDT on Saturday, May 28, 2005

Maverick education reformer JOHN TAYLOR GATTO advises today's ambitions young people to cut loose from convention, drop out of college and tune in to America's greatest export: creativity.

It's an equation we've all heard many times: College graduates make more money, therefore they are happier, therefore send more people to college to find better lives for themselves.

Not a single press account I read or heard bothered to point out that Mr. Gates himself dropped out of college after a single year. Or the even more provocative detail that he hasn't bothered to go back. Not even $40 billion or so in the bank represents security enough for him to take time off from the office to improve himself?

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, was a dropout, too. He never bothered to go back for a degree either.

Steve Jobs, the big man behind Apple, dropped out of Reed College after one semester. In all the years since, a pressing need for a diploma hasn't surfaced yet. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, abandoned college and never looked back.

And whatever Michael Dell of Dell Computer owes his dazzling success and his billions to, it isn't college. He, too, dropped out. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle ... you guessed it!

Some measure of the gross disinformation peddled on high can be guessed at if you realize that nobody in the computer business believes that high school or college training has much to do with success in the design or operation of the things.

It turns my stomach to say this, but we owe more than we know to our dream team: David Geffen of Dreamworks (flunked out of Brooklyn College), Yoko Ono (dropped out of Sarah Lawrence), Blockbuster founder Wayne Huizenga (logged only three semesters), Ted Turner (kicked out), Bill Murray (dropout), Sharon Stone (dropout), Brad Pitt (dropout) – hey, I could go on until Christmas.

Go read the rest. Take a holiday from conformist thought and ruminate on what an education is really for.

No comments: