Tomorrow’s (July, 23rd, 2015, at 6 p.m.)IF-Forum (guests are still welcome, here is the invitation) in our Unterhaching office building will be about “Learning in Innovation”. Taking the metaphor of “Unschooling”, Bruno Gantenbein will show how children can and want to learn. He will also show parallels between this concept and the experiences made by famous project managers and grown-up leaders.

At InterFace, the year 2015 is dedicated to Ada Lovelace. Consequently, Florian Specht asked me to give an introduction and answer the question:

What is the connection between Ada Lovelace and “unschooling“?

🙂 Here is an introduction I will not present tomorrow. Still, I can publish it here, can’t I? The proper introduction is for you all to hear live tomorrow.

Ada im Alter von 4 Jahren

Ada at the age of four

What is the connection between Ada Lovelace and other persons, such as for instance Galileo Galilei (the InterFace face of 2014), Blaise Pascal, Leonardo da Vinci or “the Ancient Greeks”, such as Archimedes or Socrates – as well as other outstanding personalities in science and “unschooling”?

When preparing for this presentation, the first thing I did was read the Wikipedia article on compulsory school education. We learn that

  • There was a time when it was not compulsory.
  • It was introduced rather late and put to practice even a lot later.
  • There were places where only part of the population was affected, and often only the male part
  • But the learning process was always associated with life and persons, rather than schools.

Then I took a closer look at the life of Ada Lovelace. In Wikipedia, the first sentence you find on “Ada Lovelace“ (article) is:

Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, commonly known as Ada Lovelace (nee Augusta Ada Byron;[1] * 10th of December 1815 in London; † 27th of November 1852 also in London), was a British Mathematician.”

The article is well worth reading. There is no doubt that she was a genius.
However, all the other persons I named never really seem to have attended any school:

Blaise Pascal (* 19th of June 1623 in Clermont-Ferrand; † 19th of August 1662 in Paris) was a  French Mathematician, Physicist and Literary person, as well as a christian Philosopher.

Galileo Galilei (* 15th of February 1564 in Pisa; † 29th of December 1641jul./8th of January 1642greg. in Arcetri near Florence) was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and astronomer whose discoveries in several fields of natural science  were breakthroughs.

Well, this is hardly a surprise, because when the last two lived, such a thing as schools in the modern sense did not exist.

When I was a child, I used to adore the “ancient Greeks”. Imagine what enormous and revolutionary discoveries they made with the most primitive means and a little calculation. Some of them were due only to observation, thinking and simple experiments. And, surprise, surprise: in those days, they did not have a formal school system as we have it today.

Consequently, the suspicion inside me grows that quite a few innovations would not have been possible during the history of mankind if humans in those days had been indoctrinated from early on as it is common in a normal school today.

But the light inside me was really turned on when I saw the film “Alphabet”.ALPHABET, the film was produced by Erwin Wagenhofer in 2013. After WE FEED THE WORLD and LETS MAKE MONEY, ALPHABET was the last and final part of his famous trilogy. ALPHABET is a film that describes in a very soft way what situation the children world-wide are in during their education.

I particularly liked one citation in the film. It seems to be the result of scientific research:

98 % of all babies are born as a genius. After their education, the ratio is 2 %.

The only question that remains is how Mrs. Lovelace could preserve her genius. After all, 200 years ago we already had the first stages of compulsory school education. Maybe it was because in those days there were some regions where only boys went to school? Boys who always had to be brave and never were allowed to cry?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Now I need to do a little more work on my introduction (version 2.0). Incidentally, I took the picture from Wikipedia.

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