The motto of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, and Man Conforms.” The word conform can mean to equalize, uniform, or standardized. Both public and private schools have over the last 60 years moved towards conformity through standardization. The concept, which is quite simple is to teach, test, and assess students equally. At the same time, reformers have demanded to increase the educational content workload, demand more testing and assessments not only for students but for teachers as well. Most reformers are not educators.
The pressure has also been on parents to obtain tutors for their children so that they can pass not only school curriculum but also state testing. All of this to move every student into college with the promise of a better career and lifestyle. However, according to current statistics, 44% of the college graduates that get jobs today don’t require a degree. 2 out of 5 graduates will not be working in the field they studied and paid for. According to College Atlas, 70% of Americans will study at a four-year college, but less than two-thirds will graduate with a degree, and 30% of first-year students drop out after their first year of school.
On the other hand, those students who ventured into entrepreneurial careers and have developed the right skills are demonstrating more success than their college degree counterparts. A college degree position has a salary cap, whereas an entrepreneur’s salary and growth is only limited to the knowledge, skills, and calculated risks the entrepreneur is willing to take. Today’s entrepreneurs range from Bill Gates ($81.8 Billion dollars) to young millionaires under 25 years of age.
So should schools be preparing their students for college or teaching them the entrepreneur skills to compete and survive? And, if the schools were to take this transformation what major change needs to be made? For this answer, I would like to take a look at the dimensions of one of history’s greatest entrepreneurs–Leonardo da Vinci!
This is the 500th anniversary of this great Renaissance entrepreneur’s passing. He has had the titles of an engineer, inventor, scientist, cartographer, graphic artist, biologist, astronomer, architect, sculpturist, musician, paleontologist, geologist, and even military strategist. One of the most prolific inventors in history, Leonardo dreamed up inventions and made notes on how technology in his time could be innovated to work. Whether designing weapons of war, flying machines, water systems, or new work tools, da Vinci was never afraid to look beyond traditional thinking and move into the world of dreams.
What skills did Leonardo possess that gave him the ability to take on and tackle so many different trade problems that would demand unique innovations or new inventions? With the ability to walk into a new trade with the confidence to identify a problem and the assurance to rectify the problem with a unique solution.
At the core of this genius was an artist. An artist who learned how to see, study, copy, and then invent or innovate. An artist whose brain searched for patterns and then made the connections. But his greatest attribute was his unquenchable thirst in curiosity. A curiosity that always started with a question. A question that had a story to tell, to learn, to grow. Curiosity was the catalyst and art was the skill.
Children are born with a natural curiosity and school systems do a great job of killing it. It was Sir Isaac Newton who said, “Live your life as an Exclamation rather than an Explanation.” I know Leonardo da Vinci did so. The Arts train the mind to perceive problems from different perspectives. The Arts also train the mind how to imagine and then evolve from thought to invention. Our modern system has placed the Arts in the extracurricular box meaning not important, while it has put the “T” for technology in STEM equal to the other academic components, and yet, technology doesn’t have a learning outcome. Art does!
The Academy of Leonardo’s Apprentice came into existence to teach engineering and science through the Arts. The learning outcomes would give a student those entrepreneur skills now required in our fast-moving 21st Century world. A world that is no longer confined by borders thanks to the Internet, a global community where ideas and problems can be shared and solved by those with the skills to make it happen.
As I write, the plans in initiating such an innovative program are in the works. Its purpose is to rekindle the curiosity of a young mind as well as teaching the skills of entrepreneurship while working on real problems requiring either innovation or invention. It is like no other course taught today. It is about becoming an apprentice of da Vinci. If this sounds like a program you would like support to please like this article, visit our website (LeonardosApprentice.org), or give a donation towards the building of this program. We are a 501(c) nonprofit educational foundation dedicated to searching and supporting today’s students that will become tomorrow’s visionaries.
Now in hindsight, maybe the new motto for the 21st Century might be, “Science finds, Entrepreneurs Apply, and Man Transforms”
http://Leonardosapprentice.org 501(c) nonprofit educational foundation Peter Romero M.Ed. Executive Director