Nikola Tesla And What Could Have Been

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Jun 022012

Nikola TeslaI began reading Margaret Cheney’s biography, Tesla: Man Out Of Time, this week and after only completing five chapters I am deeply saddened by how he was treated and cheated time and time again. I somehow feel a bit guilty for the behavior of my country. Maybe I would feel this way if I saw such change in how we operate today, but what I see now seems so similar to the cutthroat tactics described at the dawn of our Industrial Revolution.

If an inventor like Tesla emerged today with a mind on fire with ideas that could change the world, how would they be treated? My take…? This new inventor’s ideas would be treated as resources to extract and profit whereas the vessel carrying them would be thought of as a necessary nuisance to deal with.

How can we truly change our future from one of profit thirsty greed, to one of innovation hungry contribution? To a world in which progressing people’s lives is valued much higher than increasing one’s wealth. Are we raising today’s children to become tomorrow’s problem solvers or are we instead training them to work the existing system? What do we want most from the education we all speak of as one of the most important things we can give to our children? Is it success? What if instead we focused on teaching our children to solve new problems from within themselves? Teaching them to solve problems that have already been solved in the form of testing can only keep them in line with some subjective standard. Does anyone honestly think that tomorrow’s problems will follow the same answer key used to grade today’s tests?

Nikola Tesla did study. He had an astounding amount of discipline within himself to achieve. A major difference though is that he worked to achieve that which no one else had ever even imagined. That is the kind of discipline I want for my own children. Yes, study what has been done and gain understanding of that which interests you. Don’t stop at passing a test on it though. Don’t stop at all. Surpass what has¬†already been achieved and also continue to learn knew ways to do them with even less effort.

When Tesla was unable to gain capital for his own ideas, he worked at improving others’. Progress was the game he was in and I cannot think of anyone who played it better. Each set back was transformed into a new opportunity. Some of his improvements to Thomas Edison’s designs were even awarded patents.

If you agree with me that teaching our children to solve problems from within themselves is more valuable that training them how to solve problems they expect to see on a test, how best do you think this may be achieved? Well look at that… I’ve got myself an opportunity here don’t I?


[image credit wikipedia]