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A formal education

On this same date two years ago my co-editor observed that a formal education could be overrated -

Our research into great inventions by Brits show that many of our greatest inventors and innovators - Hooke, Boole, Beaufort, Maudslay, Dalton, Heaviside, George Stephenson, Alexander Bell, Frank Whittle - had little formal schooling. They educated themselves.

You might say, well, they were geniuses. But there is a lot of valuable work that is not learned at school.

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Cheyney Gate, Winchester

Britain is full of centuries-old buildings that were constructed by people who had never attended architecture school. Some of those builders may have trained as apprentices. Their buildings still serve us today and look beautiful.

For centuries farmers learned a crucial wealth of knowledge about soil, seed, weather, machinery and animals outside the schoolroom and fed the country. Today they have learned to survive oppressive government interference as well.

And today, children learn all about computers on their own, with their friends, become adept at technology that flummoxes me, and exploit that technology in new businesses - business being another skill set that is not taught pre-university and not always profitably at university levels.

We are not dismissing formal education, just thinking about all the ways we have learned and continue to learn outside school.

It's time to think about education in new, and traditional, ways.

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