Aaron Schwartz—What Made Me Different From the Other Kids

Via Ronaldo Lemos in Brazil.

When I was a kid, I thought a lot about what made me different from the other kids. I don’t think I was smarter than them and I certainly wasn’t more talented. And I definitely can’t claim I was a harder worker — I’ve never worked particularly hard, I’ve always just tried doing things I find fun. Instead, what I concluded was that I was more curious — but not because I had been born that way. If you watch little kids, they are intensely curious, always exploring and trying to figure out how things work. The problem is that school drives all that curiosity out. Instead of letting you explore things for yourself, it tells you that you have to read these particular books and answer these particular questions. And if you try to do something else instead, you’ll get in trouble. Very few people’s curiosity can survive that. But, due to some accident, mine did. . . . Curiosity builds on itself — each new thing you learn about has all sorts of different parts and connections, which you then want to learn more about. Pretty soon you’re interested in more and more and more, until almost everything seems interesting. . . . I feel like the only thing I’ve really done is followed my curiosity wherever it led. This isn’t easy. . . but it’s always worked for me.

3 thoughts on “Aaron Schwartz—What Made Me Different From the Other Kids

    • Great song, but we do need education, just a different kind. One that’s much more responsive to students’ interests. One that doesn’t just tolerate curiosity, but nurtures it.

      • Actually I always thought the song was not a condemnation of education per se but the very type you refer to in your essay.

        We have become too institutionalized in a way that sustains the system more than it focuses on the children learning that which they need to make it in this world beyond the life of a consumer.

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