Do schools make us smart? smarter? What is more important: intelligence or ingenuity? If you had to choose, which would you?
Steve Jobs biographer, Walter Isaacson, recently wrote that Jobs was more ingenious than he was conventionally intelligent. He argues that Bill Gates – that other guy – had more raw intelligence but that Jobs, like Einstein and others before him, stood at the intersection of the humanities and science. Ingenuity here means “practical creativity”, it means seeing the relationship between disparate things that others don’t see, the connections.
It’s not that ingenuity is better than intelligence, they are just different. The world needs all kinds.
What is an educational experience to do with these? How can the experience in schools support both styles? There’s no secret today that there are many kinds of learners. Jobs’ insight is said to come from “experiential wisdom” – that’s learning which comes from doing, from acting in the world, learning from errors, trial and error- like all the great inventors did.
Of course, Jobs dropped out of college. School was a limitation for him. It didn’t allow for him to function, dare we say “excel”, the way he he was born to. The reality is that we are all “born this way” – the way we are. We need schools that recognize this, that allow each student to be themself, to learn as they need to, to think, create, invent, explore and solve problems. Some may not even need school the way it is typically conceived of today.