When I started this blog almost ten years ago, I said:
Punctuality is not just about making meetings on time, but about being exact. It’s about doing what needs to be done at exactly the time it should be done. To me, that’s an issue that transcends mere punctuation. That ripples right out into the real world. Doing what is right, and doing it precisely. When you have everybody doing exactly that, well, it seems to me that that’s more or less the foundation of basic civility . . . and civilization itself.”
I also said that you need to know the rules, to break the rules.
My country was founded on that tough, make-do attitude of making the most out of what you had. We prided ourselves on our self-reliance and our ability to think outside the box and create things for ourselves rather than depending on other people. Our innovation was legendary.
Now, I don’t want to get into a debate right now about how we’re raising a generation of children whose research capabilities end at opening an app on their smart phones, but let’s think about how important it is to know things.
I said right at the beginning that this blog was going to be about the tools we need for civilization, and knowing the rules was right at the top of the list.
To be creative, you need to know certain rules. (How not to blow yourself up, for example.) To be able to think outside the box, you need first identify and measure your box.
Nobody can be creative or innovative without having a fundamental understanding of how the world works.
Understanding things like gravity, physics, and math that describe the physical world. Rhetoric, languages and grammar for communicating–not to mention art and music for things worth communicating.
- It’s never been more important to be informed.
- It’s never been more vital that you know the rules.
- It’s never been more necessary to stand up for what you know to be right.
I like rules. I like having boundaries and understanding how and why things work. I like having the basic tools necessary to know that if I perform Action A, the result will be B.
But I also like having the freedom to say, “But what if I try C? What will happen.”
You can’t innovate if you don’t know what people have done before you.
You can’t create unless you know what other people have created. In fact, there’s a philosophical question for you: if two people independently create the same thing at the same time, do they both count?
The answer is yes, but the one who has the press conference to announce it to the world gets top billing.
So, don’t be shy, now.
Learn everything you can so you can create, innovate, and know exactly which rules are meant to be bent … and which ones deserve to be broken.
Isn’t that what education is for?