Part IX: The pedagogical foundations for a FPU

What follows is a list of proposed actions to be taken for a free progress education clarified by comparison with the ordinary education paradigm.

Ordinary education

Progressive education

The teacher/professor tells what should be learned. Motivation is fostered, if at all, by extrinsic means. The facilitator helps the student to discover what his inner being wants him to learn. Intrinsic motivation has precedence over the extrinsic one.
The choice and quality of the content to be taught has paramount importance. The quality of the facilitator is much more important.
The aim is to become fit in being competitive in the modern world and chose a career. The aim is to discover what your purpose in this life is, give it a meaning, and the means to pursue it.
The school sets fixed learning times Everyone has his own time of growth!
Analytic-rational exercise Contemplative approach
Learn by imitating what has been done. The institution sets the goal. Learn by doing what your inner call suggests to do. The student selects the goal.
Everything is focused on forming knowledge and production. Focus on understanding and doing following your own call.
Works on the weaknesses.
A lot of emphasis is set on acquiring so called ‘basic concepts’.
Works on the strengths.
Who decides what is ‘basic’? There is something in us that knows much better than anyone else what is ‘basic’ for us.
Fostering skills, speed and efficiency in reproducing specific tasks. Fostering interest, talent and inclinations.

Time has come to say clearly and without fear of the future to take the risk of change, tell what is no longer tolerable, detach from the present system and power yoke, but on the other side propose what is necessary to do instead. Before outlining the bureaucratic and structural foundations of a FPU we have to keep in mind some core ideas which may serve as indicators for a free and progressive new pedagogy.

The traditional idea of the teacher or professor is that of an authority that has competence in a specific subject and whose main responsibility is that to transfer this knowledge from his/her own brain into other brains (with more or less authoritarian methods and threatening means like exams and grades). In the new educational paradigm only the student alone is responsible for his or her self-education. The choice of the subject to study, the learning methods are completely free. What has to be learned must be determined from a desire to learn, a curiosity to know, from an inner authority. There is no longer someone who ‘teaches’, but only a facilitator who suggests (and only when asked for a suggestion), helps if asked for help, eventually lectures but only to rise curiosity, spirit of inquiry, but nobody should pretend a blind repetition of his syllabus. The main purpose is to guide the student to self-discovery. The professionalism and preparation of a facilitator will be judged from the pedagogical skills and the understanding of the essence and motives which stand behind a progressive ideal, not for the intellectual knowledge of a subject which should become secondary.

But what about the reasons for pursuing a study? We are accustomed to think of education as a learning practice that should prepare us for the professional life and for making a living. But the main aim of a free progress education is the liberation of the inner spirit, the finding of our own direction, the freedom to be intellectually and spiritually what we really are. Career and financial perspectives must be subordinate necessities, not the decisive factor. The dictatorship of time and deadlines must fall. Who teaches me how to take my time to let flourish my intuition, insight and wisdom? Where is the time for contemplation? Those who are marathoners that learn slowly but might become able to dive more deeply in the subject should not be pressured as if they are sprinters. Whereas, sprinters should let be free to finish earlier their studies than the official academic rules foresee for their academic path.

The standard learning paradigm is focused on an analytic understanding. While the rational approach should continue to maintain its place as a tool of knowledge in every human activity, it should at the same time not be detrimental to other forms of gnosis. Great intellectual achievements have frequently as their basis inspirations coming from a contemplative dimension. The dreamer, the seer, the real independent thinker is not, or not necessarily, always guided by a strictly logical theory made of inferences and deductions. A FPU should open itself to contemplative and intuitional methods which foster inspirations and revelations (e.g. by self-mastering the mind and body with meditation techniques, or reconsidering complementary approaches like Goethian science).

In our present culture “learning” is associated with a measurable acquisition of notions and facts, possibly without failures, which the student must be able to reproduce. The direct experience as such with all its mental, emotional and physical content is not considered learning, as long as it doesn’t produce tangible results in form of new intellectual insights that answer precise questions. At best it is felt as an enriching playful activity, just a game, but not as a possible learning experience. Only the result of a successful experiment or investigation which produces knowledge that can be translated into a set of analytic concepts, possibly with potential outcomes useful for a future career, is considered real learning. This is a deeply rooted idea in our culture and mentality. And yet both history as cognitive sciences tell us that most of the skills are acquired at stages of activity where failure, doubts and unanswered questions are still predominant. The doing in itself, as such, eventually without results or even with failure, is a learning process too. This means that, contrary to past didactical approaches, in a FPU learning does not occur by imitation (typically, by repeating the lecture or solving preordered exercise), but exercising one’s own skills in practice. There should be no preconceived program and timetable which dictates the content and pace of the learning process. The student alone must know, feel, and perceive it inwardly, and therefore left totally free to act in this regard (practicing theory vs. experiment, focusing on one or another approach or procedure, choosing different textbooks than suggested by the facilitator, taking the short or long path, etc.).

However, having placed the emphasis on the practical learning, it should be clear that any form of learning or academic research should not be judged or evaluated according to its practical potential. Present academia inoculates some skills which are supposed to be useful for your future job which the state or community will (hopefully) offer you. In a FPU, the philosopher who asks about the essence of the world should not have less chances to express an inner thirst for pure knowledge than the pragmatist who is interested in developing a new hardware for the industry and the market. Studying, learning, and doing research should no longer be so tightly bended neither to its potential to produce material wealth, nor to the actuality of the current research trend or paradigm. Again, it’s the student or researchers choice in which direction to move, no committee of sages or higher hierarchies should have any saying. Education should prepare us first of all to discover and develop our inherent skills, independently from its potential practical applications.

Several pedagogues have questioned if it is more sensible to focus on the weaknesses or strengths of a children or college student? The former approach rests on the standard assumption that everyone has to learn the same basic concepts and all must acquire a set of fundamental notions. The latter assumes instead that the idea of a general knowledge for all is surpasses and that each of us has some strengths, not just because of a coincidence, but because every soul has an existential program which serves the development of the individual, as that of the community. This existential program encodes already the strengths which should be used to manifest our life mission. The weaknesses instead are not a capricious joke of nature, but less developed skills which are less necessary for our enfoldment, and it would be therefore a waste of time and energy to insist of the weaknesses instead of anybodies strengths. In a FPU the emphasis is set on cultivating the strengths, and a facilitator should primarily encourage the further development of it. However, sometimes weaknesses are also the sign of undeveloped or wrongly developed skills due to past wrong choices or bad experiences. There is no dilemma. The solution is, as usual, in freedom. It should be left to the free choice of the student eventually to focus the attention on the weak aspects of the character. But this choice should come from within, not from a forced superimposed ordered from someone who does not know the real inner causes and motives of these weaknesses.

Today schools, and even more universities, measure the skills of their students with essentially few parameters: the amount of information encapsulated by the brain, the time needed to reproduce a task based on that information (typically there is a strict time limit to solve an exercise, while an oral examination needs an immediate feedback), and the amount of correct answers which finally determine the grade. But this means to measure what we know, not what we can. The insight, intuitive understanding and the result of a passionate study which needs more time and an inner perception of the work to be done, are considered inessential. In a FPU, where exams and grades are abolished, these superficial evaluations play a secondary role. Of course students have to take their responsibilities. The (self-) assigned task has to be completed in reasonable times, the quality of the work done must be reviewed by a commission (which includes students and judges without grades), codes of behavior must be respected, and so forth. But the rules imposed must have a twofold complementary function: guarantee not only the collective quality of the institution but also the total freedom of expression of the individual.


Part VIII: What a Free Progress University might be good for

createBut the question at this point is what can be done now as a first step towards this vision? After the author’s personal disappointing experiences in several study and working environments, a vision came into being: something which conceives of a learning center at higher education levels and which gives people the possibility to self express themselves, practice self-learning and grow by means of an intellectual and intuitive learning process that the standard educational paradigm does not consider, and even openly discourage. A place where they can free-style their path to knowledge, study what their inner being suggests in complete autonomy, and not what the faculty imposes. A place where all can pursue their own research lines and even exercise intuitive approaches which in nowadays institutions are strictly forbidden.

But is a FPU good only for seers and artists, but not for engineers working in an industry or managers? According to Tony Wagner, an Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, there are seven survival skills as defined by business leaders in their own words: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurship, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination. Each of these can be addressed easily in a free progress perspective considering that present institution (indirectly or even directly influenced by the business world), while advocating it, do however not allow these skills to develop individually and grow freely. because, if problems are imposed without the allowance for individual question solving, it is then quite obvious that students lack of critical thinking. And how can you learn to lead by influence and not by authority if the environment you were grown up is essentially an authoritarian system? Moroever, it is useless to call for adaptability to change when the schools, we have been drilled in, obey themselves a century old order without questioning it. Why should someone who has never, or scarcely been allowed to take initiative at his/her own risk and responsibility, suddenly become a self-directed and creative individual? Where from should passionate communication skills come from when any passion was killed long ago by the very same who now ask for it? How can information processing become effective when you have been raised in a place where it has always been pre-processed for you? No wonder that a research by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, [1] which used survey responses and standardized assessment measures, reveals that 45% of students attending US higher education institutions don’t learn anything in their first two years and demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills as critical thinking and complex reasoning. No wonder that a research and book by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, [27] which used survey responses and standardized assessment measures, reveals that 45% of students attending US higher education institutions don’t learn anything in their first two years and demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills as critical thinking and complex reasoning. And it is now wonder either, that Arum and Roksa, were criticized for their understanding of what at all ‘learning’ means. This was to expect in a society that slowly but steadily begins to understand that the ‘reduction ad numerum’ of human’s cognitive activity is untenable. Finally, as to the seventh point, that on curiosity and imagination, it comments itself.

Therefore, there are good reasons to believe that a FPU is not just for eccentric humanist who crave for more freedoms, but it might well prepare future business leaders even much better than any traditional institution which tries to imbue skills by a mechanical compulsion into young brains.


[1] R. A. a. J. Roksa, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Part VII: Towards liberation from ordinary education

Breaking the chains of ordinary educationIt is time to look further for an independent place where a type of free progress approach in education can emerge and can serve a new kind of society. Not so much because there aren’t people capable to put forth this project in the present ordinary conventional academia, but because the present academic system is intrinsically designed to refute this alternative since it is based on a machinery that appoints at the top of the hierarchy just those who are alien to this educational conception and naturally de-selects those who are.

We expect institution to be guided by the best minds, i.e. the best former students. But who are actually meant to be the ‘best’ in present schools and universities? They are not those who have shown skills of creativity, originality or intuition. They are, on the contrary, just those who managed to be best in adapting themselves to the preordered classical intellectual or political system, and those who were more successful than others to adjust their character to a “Taylor minded” institution, and perform its assigned tasks faithfully. These are rewarded for their loyalty and will be those who climb up the ladder of the hierarchical structure. And from there they won’t be able to do nothing else than perpetuate exactly the same system. It is in their intrinsic education and character, they can’t do otherwise. If you are a sheep, you will always behave like a sheep, and once you will become the head of the flock, you will again maintain a system for sheep. Expecting a reform from the inside of this environment is vain, it can’t emerge, or if it does, it will take centuries. The change can only come from the gorund up. The economic and personal interests which stand in the way are much too powerful, fear of change and innovation is too strong, and a blind pragmatic conception of education itself is much to engraved in the mind of those who would have the power and authority to make these changes happen. One has to offer an alternative system of knowledge acquisition as an alternative that students can follow without any need to enroll in present academic institutions (even though student internship and exchanges should remain a normal practice).

Therefore, only a university which bases itself on the principles of a free progress of the inner being, which allows for an external expression and development of the personal true and genuine inner indidvidual character, can offer a valid alternative, and the possibility to grow further. It is about building an institution which fosters a free self-designed progressive learning and an waster knowledge paradigm. A place where young people are not pushed into it, as it is nowadays, but pulls them at it. A great cultural concentration point where knowledge, timetables, curriculums, systems, etc. are not forced upon minds, but that attracts minds by motivation. Because it is only in such a condition of an expanded freedom of expression that the human being can flourish and express itself. Because it will finally be the inner drive which will suggest the true way to follow. If this is not done, and so far it isn’t,  the rest can’t follow.

At this stage, it is not only about finding funds for building new school, universities, new laboratories or about some new technology that is supposed to allow for more freedom and self-expression. Probably we are still not aware enough of how the ideas about education, and which have their roots mostly in the first educational reforms of the 19th century, are deeply engraved in our minds. Otherwise we would not speak about reforming but about abolishing something. Could slavery and the apartheid be ‘reformed’? These things could not be ameliorated or regulated by better laws. They had to be abolished entirely. Was it morally conceivable to maintain child labor by making it more ‘civilized’’? Nobody would put it in these terms nowadays. Everyone would agree today that it has to be eliminated. After all, enlightenment did not arise from a reform of the church’s inquisition which controlled the culture and academia in the middle ages and which imprisoned Galileo and burnt Giordano Bruno on the stake. It was a radical departure from traditional structures which ignited the scientific revolution in Europe. What is needed is not a reform but a revolution.

One might object that comparing the actual educational system to past forms of slavery goes too far. But the real difference is not qualitative but experiential. Slaves knew to be slaves. Most of modern students and teachers are enslaved too, but we are so accustomed to the present system and give it for so granted that this is the only and most natural way to acquire knowledge and express expertise, that we have only a vague sense of being imprisoned by a mental construction, perceiving an inner uneasiness and dissatisfaction, but did not reach a real awareness of the illusion of the ‘Matrix’. We even do not have any understanding what at all a different approach to teaching and learning could be. But the time will come where future generations will look back at our educational institutions like institutionalized forms of repression, and the actual primary school system will be placed at the same moral level as we consider today child labor.

But what stood, and still stands, behind all that resistance to change? It was fear. The fear of losing power and wealth, the fear of innovation, the fear of the consequences of what a new conception and perception might cause. Nowadays this fear expresses itself in the “what if” instinctive mental and emotional reflex. What if we change this or that aspect of education? What if we switch from a generation old system to a new and unexplored methodology? What if we spend money on a new project which outcome is unpredictable? If things go wrong we might have to justify our failures, we might lose our prestige, or we even might be fired and lose our job. And so, even if a timid attempt of innovation surfaces from time to time, we feel nevertheless more comfortable in maintaining everything as it is, and the system continues to hold its grip on our consciousness perpetrating itself ad infinitum.

This can be seen, for example, even in modern industrial and educationally advanced nations as in Germany. The attempt to reform a tripartite schooling system which categorizes, and consequently stigmatizes, 9 years old children into the ‘good’, ‘average’, and ‘bad’ ones, assigning them to the ‘Gymnasium’ school (those who will be prepared for academic learning), the ‘Realschule’ (the middle class school, mostly for technicians), and to the ‘Hauptschule’ (the lowest level schools, mostly visited by immigrants from poor families), met onto extreme resistance. The ‘basic instinct fear’ of the rich and educated families to send their children to schools where they have to mix up with those coming from lower social classes, has met on fierce opposition and prevented any attempt to reform an elitist and archaic educational system, which however is deeply engraved in German’s society mindset, and is almost taken for a normal natural selection process.

Another more mundane, but nice modern example of the ‘what if’ fear instinct, seems to have occurred with “Google’s 20% time” rule, which was an intuitive (probably unconscious) understanding of human’s personal inner potential. The famous search engine company once encouraged its engineers to take 20 percent of their time to apply their passion on independent projects (needless to say that a FPU will apply the 100% rule). Indeed several Google products were born in this way (e.g. Gmail, Google News). But nevertheless, Google clamped down this practice since its managers, once the company and its projects grew larger, feared that this rule could hamper the productivity of the projects established with the very same rule.

But, what if a new mindset, reform and a revolutionary idea becomes a success?

The final aim/vision/ideal would be that of an independent university campus where students are free to grow inwardly by liberating their inner soul and higher mind which manifest in a natural talent and an inner power that expresses itself in research, learning, inquiring. A place that has no financial ties or political and bureaucratic connections to present institutions and where they could learn what they want, can do research in the way they feel.

However it is, it is very unlikely that the change will come from within the present system. Those who made it through the hierarchy, no matter how much they complain privately, are forced to remain institutionally conservative. Because most are quite comfortable with their actual position and tend not to support fundamental reforms out of fear and incertitude about the future that what comes after might also be even worse. The school system is rotten from within to the core. The hope that more money, more staff, more hardware and more reforms will make things different is only a self-induced delusion which tries to hide the fear of real change. Only completely alternative institutions, funded and governed independently from the existing system, will have a chance to do so.

Part VI: Acknowledging the human soul factor

The individual potentialAfter all, education should serve not merely a financial security, but also and foremost the perfection of the being, a truer being, through a progression of consciousness, and this can be obtained only by reconsidering our ordinary academic conceptions and activities in relation to a new understanding of the human being itself. It is not about brilliant students but living souls that feel the ‘fire for progress’ that we must look for. A free progress system where the progress is guided by an inner inspiration and not subject to habits, conventions or even preconceived pedagogical ideas and theories.

That our educational systems do not foster creativity, freedom, and hamper the genius and intuitive thinker is a fundamental acknowledgement. An important acknowledgement, which however, as we have seen, isn’t new. Many are realizing the misalignment between the ideals we have about liberating a new spirit and the everyday reality in primary and secondary schools. But, as far as the author’s best knowledge concerns, almost no thought is put forward for concrete proposals on how this is supposed to happen also in higher education. Once we have acknowledged the lack of freedom for creativity in schools and colleges, what should the practical next step be?

Of course, we hear about reforms, need for change, new laws and appeal to those in charge and responsible of educating new generations to change their mind and take action accordingly. But year after year, decade after decade, not much changed in these respects. Why? Sure, there had to mature a shift. This shift is still in progress and yet not complete. All this takes time. But the number of people who woke up and realized the limits and intrinsic failure of the actual system has grown enormously in the last years. And nevertheless the very same people working, teaching and making research in these institutions seem not to be able to change much. If these are part of the same academic system, why do they not make a difference? There must be still something missing.

The point is that any attempt to reform education, abstracting from the profoundness of human nature and uniqueness of the individual, will never be able to go far enough and will always contain the seed of an unconscious mechanical reformulation of the past. Intuitions or revelations are considered interesting side effects at best, but almost never are the higher states of consciousness of the seer or intuitive genius nurtured and exercised. In this new view instead the only real teacher, or professor, is the inner soul, with its guidance, where the intuition of truth can come only from within and ‘above’. We should accept that every human being is not only unique and indispensable, but has a ‘mission’, an inner ‘plan’, or ‘existential program’. And it is this inner soul with its existential program which must have the central command and priority. Because we can imagine of any sort of school or university which may furnish all the structures, technology, teachings and assistance to develop all our psychological planes, but these, as such, won’t lead to a real integral development if not sustained and guided first of all by this sacred inner presence in us. Or, to put it in other words, the ideal of the freedom of the soul and the inner consciousness is more urgent than the preoccupation for acquiring skills and intellectual knowledge. Not only because the latter is less important than the former but, to put it more pragmatically, because the latter can’t follow in its integrality without the former. Therefore, the priority is at present to identify how to create the practical conditions that could lead to this inner freedom and progress in our worldly existence. Beyond an abstract declaration of intent there hasn’t been much proposals so far for the university and research level.

Hi-tech classrooms, pedagogical research or new didactical methodologies are all fine, but finally, only an education with a soul, and especially a learning through the soul, will lead us towards the real reform. We need an education for children, an academy for under-graduates and graduates and research centers which follow the call of the spirit. If people feel increasingly the pressure of stagnation and sameness, this is because these are aspects alien to their soul which develops with change, variation and in a diversity in unity. If nowadays we have to complain about a lack of creativity this is because the present system is intrinsically designed to hold imprisoned our inner being which naturally tends to freedom, curiosity, passion, inspiration and aspiration. If there are so many who don’t know what to do with their lives this is a consequence of the deafness that our society imposes towards the inner voice of the soul which knows better than anyone else what our mission is. If despite all the technological means and material progress we feel a lack of space for intuition and inspiration, and the number of geniuses who made paradigmatic shifts is lacking, this is due to the fact that other levels of consciousness of the intuitive mind are not considered, or at best only unconsciously and vaguely recognized. It is decades that we hear about the great advantages of multidisciplinary, but an ever increasing specialization which dissects and particularizes remains the only possible path because the intuitive understanding which is naturally holistic, flexible and tends to an all encompassing view, is meticulously expunged in favor of purely mechanistic and analytic approaches. Revelations, innovations, the realization of dreams, and exceptional cognitive events still remain rare, and will remain forever, if the institutions where the new generation of scientists, philosophers, musicians and artists will continue to refuse to open themselves to higher cognitive dimensions.

If technology alone would be the key, why is it that just in the computer and internet era, and which creative potential is enormous, we nevertheless discover ourselves in the middle of an educational crisis and the most preferred activity of an apparently unmotivated youth is that of playing video games? Sure, online universities, computer networks, open online courses, new digital technologies, social network learning, original didactical tools, teaching strategies, computer animated graphics, etc., are all fine and they will undoubtedly contribute to a new cultural renaissance, but finally it won’t do the job to liberate fully the creative potential inside everybody of us. If the role of technology is too much emphasized it will remain blind to the needs of the human spirit and its advanced knowledge potentials.

We must look further, much further, towards an understanding of the human psyche as an entity that does not follow a system of conformity and uniformity, but is intrinsically unpredictable aiming at unexpected novelty and multiplicity in diversity. The human soul can’t be grown, nurtured and controlled like a machine can be but must be acknowledged as a process inherent in life. A living soul is not an abstract concept, and isn’t a mechanistic entity that can be measured with tests, grades and its skills and abilities commanded and controlled by furnishing it a set of lectures, eventually adding the pressure of fear of failure.

In brief: there won’t be any reform, revolution or technological mean that will lead education to a real renewal if the inner individual human dimension won’t be acknowledged, nurtured and grown. The unifying principle is a ‘soul factor’ of the human being. This will be the key.

Part V: Past and present attempts to reform education

1902 classroomAnd yet, the application of pedagogic thinking which is supposed to foster the individual creative spirit has been largely debated in the frame of pre-college/university environment, already since the 17th century. Between 1780 and 1800, the Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, conceived of educational methods based on individual differences and vocational self-determination. In 1810,  Wilhelm von Humboldt, a Prussian philosopher and government functionary tried, in vain, to reform the German school system according to a scheme where education is not only meant for making a living but that emphasizes the skill of learning to learn. In 1897, the American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey, published his pedagogic creed of ‘progressive education’. Progressive education emphasizes among other things personalized education, life long learning by direct experience and doing rather than text-book reading, group work, cooperative learning, school as a community life, and that “all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race”. [1]. Dewey’s ideal of ‘progress’ however, can be considered only a small subset of the concept of free progress education we are trying to develop here. About 1907, Maria Montessori, the first doctorate woman in Italy, founded several schools based on a new pedagogy which has her name. The Montessori method is now worldwide known for its education of children which emphasizes independence, freedom and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. About the same time, in Austria, Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogy with its anthroposophical view of the human being and its associated movement, founded the Waldorf schools that is characterized by a qualitative rather than quantitative approach. Later, after WWII, the Reggio Emilia approach, founded by Loris Malaguzzi in the Italian city of Bologna, instead realized that, if children are given opportunities to express themselves, and are free to explore, they become able to self-guide their own development. These were only some of the several other alternative schools that came into being in the last century. But any attempt of alternative approaches have been keep rigorously far removed from higher education. Any gain that these pedagogies might have obtained in scholarly age, have been expunged later.

There is however a much more recent outburst of interests in education also. One has only to make a research on the web to see how many are praising freedom, creativity and intuition which have seemingly become rare stuff in our established institutions. Perhaps the most interesting and relevant case which might inspire partially an ideal for a FPU, are the so called ‘Sudbury-Valley schools’, also called ‘democratic schools’ which are flourishing worldwide, mostly inspired on the educational philosophies of the founder Daniel Greenberg. [2] A school project where no one is forced to learn, and there are no grades or tests. Democratic Education is based on ideals in which democracy is both a goal and a method of instruction, and fosters self-determination as well as such values as justice, respect and trust. In these schools children are left totally free to do what they want, and experience has shown that it works. This system surprisingly showed that if children’s souls are left free, they seem to know better than adults what they really need to learn and what they have to do to become full grown beings, intellectually and morally.

The major limit of Sudbury schools however is that they were and continue to remain schools, not colleges and universities. There is apparently this stubborn assumption that only children deserve the freedom to express their creativity and imagination while learning. Also among the most advanced and open minded pedagogies there is this granitic conviction that once a young student enrolls in university, then the ideal of free learning must be set aside. Almost no one doubts that, after some specific age, learning can’t be done otherwise than resorting to the good old system made of sterile notion learning, exams, grades and certificates. With only a notable single exception [3], the author does not know of any proposal to reform post-scholar learning according to precepts and ideals based on freedom, creativity and personal development in research and intellectual inquiry after secondary schools. It seems that didactics and pedagogy are considered disciplines which have to deal only with little children, perhaps some retarded teenager, but not with adults. This is one of the hardest ingrown convictions of our society, with psychology making no exception, and that is producing a constantly increasing tension between the potentialities of adult individuals and their effective possibilities to express it. It would not be surprising to see that this tension might reach a breaking point erupting in new forms of dissatisfaction, revolts and possibly even violence, just among those apparently most skilled, but without them being able to explain really their deeper motives of their actions.

Anyhow, the debate on education is raging and hopefully it will finally instill some doubts on the argument. One of the most notable names as international advisor on education is the already cited Sir Ken Robinson, and if someone wishes to gain a broad spectrum of the ideas and initiatives emerging around the issue of education it is worthwhile to look up websites like the notorious TED [4]. Here we hear people speaking about great ideas and wonderful initiatives. For example, David Helfand outlines how Quest University Canada has a program that aims at educating students for an interdisciplinary lifetime of learning, with intensive short “blocks” courses. [5] It is indeed an interesting attempt that tries to break through the status quo of the established academic habits. Elizabet Gilbert wonders about the elusive creative genius [6]. Charles Leadbeater discovers how learning begins by posing questions instead of imparting knowledge, how the collaborative process leads to innovation even in slums [7], and how the future will be that of mass participation and creativity. Susan Cain looks instead to for the power of introversion, challenging the common trend of groupthink. “Stop the madness for constant group work”, she said. [8,9] Meanwhile even neurobiologists are now discovering the connections between brain functions and the development of creativity. [10]

The Internet offers also Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) for academic education programs. Blended learning has been conceived, that is an education program in which students learn both at home through online content as at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home. [11] ‘Flip teaching’, based on peer instruction, an interactive teaching method developed by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur in the early 1990s, is a form of blended learning in which students learn by watching video lectures at home, and later discuss it and do ‘homework’ in class with the teacher offering personalized guidance instead of lecturing. The Khan Academy a non-profit educational website that has as its stated mission to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere”, offers free online courses from algebra to computer science, from world history to finance. Sugata Mitra, a professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University in the UK, made a ‘hole in the wall experiment’ whereby children in Indian slums were given access to computers with educational software and were let completely free to learn what and how they want, without intervention of teachers. It turned out that they learn things much faster than rich children tought by conventional schooling, and spontaneously teach themselves. From this idea an initiative of Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) came into being. [12] Anya Kamenetz, author of the book DIY U (Do It Yourself University) [13] conceives of students at MOOC Campus to help each other get the knowledge they need on their own without being told how to act or spending money in other traditional universities.

Bu, lots of instructors, teachers, professors, pedagogues, psychologists and neuroscientists continue lamenting lack of real progress. Overall, apart from the exceptions that confirm the rule, the system does not show any signs of change. The above cited initiatives remain confined to personal attempts of change, or at best in small and few private schools or universities. Flip teaching is far from being an accepted method that could begin to replace the century old encrusted teaching style. Khan Academy lectures are still elementary, not at real university levels. MOOCs had a great success, but only few percent of those who subscribe to a course effectively end it with a degree, the others quit. Of course the process will need time to develop itself, but online learning is no longer a novelty. It existed now for about two decades, and did not meet the expectations.

This may also have something to do that all these approaches contain more or less implicitly their seed of truth, but possibly might still miss something fundamental. There have been improvements in education, but only at the margins, not in its fundamental nature, the paradigm still hasn’t changed. The feeling is that we are still scraping the surface and didn’t find the essence, the unifying principle.


[1] Dewey, “My Pedagogic Creed”, 1897.

[2] D. Greenberg, “Free at Last: The Sudbury Valley School”, 1991: ISBN 1-888947-00-4.

[3] L. Smolin, “The Trouble with Physics”, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006J.

[4] “TED / Ideas worth spreading,”

[5] D. Helfand, “Designing a university for the new millennium”

[6] E. Gilbert, “Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius,” 2009.

[7] C. Leadbeater, “Education innovation in the slums,” 2010.

[8] S. Cain, “The power of introverts,” 2012.

[9] S. Cain, “The Rise of the New Groupthink,” Opinion section of The New York Times, 13 January 2012.

[10] G. Hüther, “The Neurobiological Preconditions for the Development of Curiosity and Creativity,”

[11] H. S. a. M. B. Horn, “Classifying K–12 Blended Learning,” 2012.

[12] S. Mitra, “TED Weekends; The SOLE challenge,”

[13] A. Kamenetz, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010.

Part IV: Humanizing education

Examinations and organized fearThere are two facets, two approaches in dealing with learning, research and culture, and which have some advantages of their own, but unfortunately are perceived as standing in the way to each others. The first approach is that to insist on the idea that we need even more skilled leaders, fundraisers, and managers who are able to direct large research programs and groups of scientists. An idea where everything is directed towards a huge well organized managerial and industrialized system that pressures people to produce practical results as early as possible, deemphasizing any attempt to look further for discoveries that aim at knowing for the sole pleasure of knowing. The second possibility, on the contrary, might be that we should rediscover the ancient human ‘impetus’ to understand nature, the drive to independent and creative thinking, the spirit of the natural philosopher, who pursues the freedom to develop one’s own research program, and liberates everyone’s intellectual independence and potentials, independently from its possible applications.

True, in this market driven world, the latter alternative sounds too romantic. But didn’t modern society bet too much on the former one? After all, where from came the great minds that transformed the world materially? From schools and universities where they learned only the real world practice preparing them for their future jobs, or from institutions that foster also theoretical approaches of pure thought, like philosophy and a humanistic practice like music and arts? It is an established fact that most inventors, geniuses and not rarely corporate leaders too, did not attend schools which focus exclusively on a technical apprenticeship aimed solely at attaining a professional certificate.

What is really needed in the field of college and university education at this historical stage of the scientific, technological and human development, is the freedom to ask again for one’s own question, and having the time to do that, without the danger of not being able to make it for a living. Nowadays we begin from imparting the already established knowledge into the child’s brain, but do not exercise people in posing questions that should lead to that knowledge. Instead, it should be the other way around: learning that starts from questions that lead to knowledge. Our concept of education is still too much focused on the choices to be made today in order to get a degree that will guarantee a job tomorrow. The inner drive towards ones own realizations, aspirations, spontaneous questioning and creativity are still too much subordinated to the impossible guess of what a decade away job might look like, and that children and students are forced to learn in order to make it for a living in a future global competitive market. We still didn’t learn the lesson that these prediction rarely turn out to be correct anyway. Moreover, jobs are usually about the production of material things. Therefore, from childhood onward we are told by our society and learning system to focus on the external world, on the empiric data, on the strictly material knowledge and experience. But no time is allowed to listen to ourselves, to investigate our own inner depth, to search for the inspiration and passion which comes from within. The exclusive concentration on few intellectual directions to the exclusion of others, retracting the support to individuals working on their own approaches, has led us to an academic environment incapable of going beyond the status quo. Given this state of affairs, which is more or less consciously felt by students and potential bright minds, has led many to renounce entirely to their career and nowadays are no longer working in the field their heart was longing for. Or, on the other end of the line, for example, most of those who got to the top of the scientific academic hierarchy have become not scientists who manage research, but managers, politicians, bureaucrats with the only difference that they have a degree in science.

New selection criteria must be found, where the person, the scholar, the scientist is chosen, not for their sterile scholastic preparation, but for their ideas, ideals, aspirations and passions. And even the actuality of the line of research they propose shouldn’t be considered essential. Funding must not be granted to someone only because the line of research is actually considered the most trendy, but, at least a part of it, should be devoted to alternative, risky and unconventional paths.

University courses should become more flexible, that is, it should be conceived first of all not just as a place where to acquire knowledge and solve problems. Amassing knowledge shouldn’t be its main preoccupation. Nowadays, with the advent of the information age and the internet, everyone who can read and write is perfectly able to download every kind of information needed also without the help of a teacher or professor. They are no longer a key figure for information retrieval, whereas their function should be that of showing students the way of how they can become able of finding that knowledge by their own. Education institutions should be a place where people learn to learn, and learn to ask questions, and learn what has to be learned by themselves, with the help of someone who is not an instructor, a trainer or a drill sergeant, but an adviser, a counselor, a guide, a coach, a tutor, a mentor, an attendant who facilitates our own and personal search for knowledge and self-enfoldment. Let us call this figure a ‘facilitator’. A good problem solver is someone who has learned to ask good questions first. Students should no longer be treated as empty containers to be filled with intellectual notions. Ph.Ds, post-doc and researchers should not be considered like mere employees who have to obey orders passively and blindly.

Too much emphasis has been set on intellectual rigor, on mathematical perfection, on mechanical skills which are too exclusively focused in reproducing quickly specific tasks and by fast problem solving with zero tolerance for failure. But a creative process rests on the freedom to fail in a system that abhors uniformity. How idiotic would sports be if it would apply the same selection rules for marathoners and sprinters? It would be so idiotic as our present educational system. And, as Sir Ken Robinson explained [1], an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, “we have developed a culture where mistakes are stigmatizes”. Whereas, every scientist who has some direct experience in participating to a research project, be it in a purely theoretical subject or by performing experiments in a laboratory, knows very well that most attempts to find out for a new scientific truth have to go first through a huge amount of failures. An education that institutionalizes fear of failure is de facto an authoritarian system, per definition. It gave us lots of efficient executors indeed, but it killed also the spirit of the creative thinker. In this kind of environment, the ‘seer’, the intuitive thinker, the creative artist, the genuine talent and the genius are naturally de-selected from the outset. Human beings are too diverse to be enclosed in a single academic educational approach. There are a lot of diverse talents, approaches and styles. And yet, most of the current universities impose only one possible path. These institutions should open themselves to all the human characters: to the analytical, the intuitive, the artistic, the unconventional, the ‘rebel’ minds, etc.

We hear frequently people talking about the autonomy and freedom of science. But, in this regard, most research centers of today are the problem not the solution. They look exclusively at the speed and precision of intellectual reproduction and potential for manufacture, possibly added with good communication skills of the individual, but motivation (intrinsic or extrinsic) is officially seen as secondary. A free progress environment is necessary because there are several young students or potential students who feel the inner drive to question on the deeper meaning of things, who have an opening towards alternative approaches, who have great inspirations and aspirations, and could serve the collective development of a nation. But, when they enroll in a college, they have to discover that there is no such thing like the opportunity to express themselves. The individual development is hampered. They are forced to repress their own inner potentialities, and are compelled to follow lines that are not their owns. If they want to make a career, they have no other way out than sacrificing all to a study/work and professional path which has nothing to do with what their inner soul calls for and with what their real destiny should be. Not only, many of these are led to believe that there is something wrong in them and fall in depression and stress and finally abandon entirely the studies they have pursued for several years. Nowadays, those who perceive an urge to go beyond a mere analytical and superficial understandings of the physical world, those who want to focus on specific subjects because there is an inner drive to do so, must set aside these yearnings. They would like to progress and change and evolve but are forced to inhibit even suppress their own evolution.

Nowadays everyone is talking about ‘excellence’. But what is excellence? Setting up highly selective institutions who bring together the so called ‘best brains’ and order them to do what is required from the top like chickens in a hen house? Every manager would deny this, all unanimously tell us that they look for creative and original thinkers. But facts are quite different. “Work under pressure and in multitasking” is the motto and main pedagogical ideal of several top academic managers. A pedagogy that tells what, when and how to do the job. Every attempt to put forward ones own ideas, projects or alternative approaches is felt as an irritating attempt to overthrow their authority. Obviously they are always a bit disappointed that, despite having under their power grip several people who eventually published lots of scientific papers, not much groundbreaking stuff has been discovered. There is a pressure which generates fear, anger, sadness, frustration and ultimately hampers the emergence of a further consciousness in most individuals working in industries and research centers. And if things continue to go wrong the pressure is enhanced. But it should become clear instead that the solution is not to insist in doing more wrong things. An entirely new approach is needed. Real excellence can come only from within. And this fact remains alien to most teachers and academic figures today as in the past.


[1] L. A. Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Penguin Books, 2009.

Part III: The death of creativity in an era of big science

dinosaurBut the lack of creativity and revolutions is not only inherent in a standard industrial approach but reflects itself also in larger research projects. It impacts modern academia in its way of thinking, conceiving and doing science. Its organizational conception has become common place in the large laboratories, those making part of the worldwide big science initiatives. Big science is one of the most prominent and visible characters of our age, and has been criticized for several reasons. However, the connection between the dark side of huge scientific projects and that of modern education is rarely highlighted.

The first big science project can be dated back to the times of the second war and was the famous Manhattan project. As well known this was a US led research with some participation of other nations like the UK and Canada, that aimed at the construction of the first atom bomb, and which was in fact built and used later in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was it a success? In a certain sense it was, since it put an end to WWII. But it led to a huge loss of lives and made it clear what a horror the nuclear holocaust could be. Nobody takes this today as an example to justify funds for  projects.

Since then several other so called ‘big science’ projects were pursued. But, after more than half a century, we can now confidently say that the success and turnout of these huge scientific projects can be considered to be meager and very doubtful, to say the least.

Short after the Manhattan project the international community launched a large scale research aimed at obtaining a controlled nuclear fusion reactor (the type of nuclear energy that makes stars burn) and that was supposed to save us from future energy crises. But after half a century it remains still unclear if it is possible even in principle to build it (nobody knows how to build the chamber that must contain the hot plasma).

In the 1960’ we had the Apollo project, and about 10 years later astronauts were sent to the moon. But today, after almost half a century later, everyone realizes that it was only about cold war and politics, certainly not about science and the wellbeing of humanity as a whole. And, frankly,  where is the ‘giant leap for mankind’?

How many remember that, more or less about the same time, former US President Richard Nixon announced to the world that the ‘war on cancer’ began, financing with billions of dollars research against the ‘disease of the century’. Again, after almost half a century, despite some progress, cancer remains more than ever the lethal disease of the new century too.

And what about the space shuttle project? It was supposed to become a cheap and reusable space transportation system, instead it turned out to be a bottomless pit. And despite the clear evidence coming from previous historical experience that robotic space research produced much more results of scientific interest and for much less money than it is necessary for sending humans in space, the international community nevertheless pursued the launch of the International Space Station. It is an impressive space engineering achievement of humankind, indeed. But we should remember that it was advertised for its potentials as for the production of new medicines and material science, but so far not much came out of it.

In March 2000, former President Bill Clinton, made a similar announcement as his predecessor Nixon, this time it was about the mapping of the human genome. Other billions and billions of dollars were invested in order to open humanity to the so called ‘genetic personalized medicine’, this was the promise. After about a dozen of years there is now a widespread consensus that the human genome project was quite disappointing. It turned out that ‘life is complicated’ [1], since our cells are much more complex than we suspect. Therefore, any hope of healing genetic diseases remains as far as ever.

And it is now at least three decades that we hear about the coming of a bio-engineering agrarian revolution that should save and feed a world plagued by overpopulation. But, while we are still waiting for the results, people in so called ‘third world countries’ continue to starve. After the first cloning in 1998 of the sheep Dolly, the world was thrilled by the perspectives of big science medicine, in particular by the growth of stem cells with the promise to grow human organs as transplants. What happened to the radical breakthroughs? Much was promised, but as of 2013 not much was delivered. Biomedical engineer Professor Michael Sefton said they had been “hopelessly naive”, since “organs are immensely complex“ [2] The universe is revealing to our research and closer inspection an ever increasing complexity that quickly is escaping the grasp of analytic mind. Even our personal life, which is manifestly influenced by the very same scientific and technological evolution, has become increasingly complex to such a degree that it is unlikely it will remain still controllable for a long time. At some point a mental civilization which drives itself towards an ever increasing complexity is doomed to a collapse, or relapse.

And yet, the lesson has still not been learned. Now we hear about other projects similar to the human genome mapping. For instance the EU seems to be willing to pump billions of Euros into the ‘human brain project’, which, in the words of its official website, proposes to  integrate ”everything we know about the brain into computer models and using these models to simulate the actual working of the brain. Ultimately, it will attempt to simulate the complete human brain”. It seems that nobody remembers that already in the 1980’s the Japanese government launched a similar project named “Fifth Generation Computer Systems project” aimed at building artificial intelligence platforms, but it turned out soon that it could not meet the expectations. Intelligence turned out to be hard to decipher. Will modern supercomputers be more successful? There are good reasons to strongly doubt that.

Admittedly there were also some few successful big science projects. The most notorious one that comes to mind might be the Hubble Space Telescope or the Cassini interplanetary probe to Saturn (but the latter underlined again the success of unmanned space vs. human space exploration). Another example is CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which, with its particles accelerators in Geneva contributed to confirm the standard model of particle physics. But big particle accelerators did after all not lead to a conceptual change in the theories, they merely confirmed the theoretical predictions physicists already made. And CERN’s last creation, the worlds biggest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), has still to prove itself. So far it discovered only something predicted by theory, the Higgs boson. Meanwhile a ‘horror scenario’, as some physicists use to call it, is rising above the horizon. The LHC seems not to be able to find a signature for any new physics, like some hint that could lead us beyond the standard model of particle physics or a paradigm shift like that of Einstein’s relativity or quantum mechanics. Superstrings and supersymmetry are very complex theories which were developed in order to lead us beyond the present understanding of the world, but any experimental evidence seems to cast doubts on it, and no new ‘quantum revolution’ is in sight. It seems that Nature didn’t appreciate human’s effort to decipher its complexity and decided that things should work otherwise. The horror is that probably thousands of physicists have spent their last 30 years running after a chimera.

Anyway, apart from some specific successful cases, overall, history has now clearly shown that the excessive focus on the ‘big science’ approach we could observe in the last 50 years is unconvincing and must be revised. People, especially those who have to pay taxes in times of financial crises, are getting more and more skeptical and nervous towards titanic investments into gigantic science projects. And rightly so. It must be said that responsible of this state of affairs were to a good extent not only politicians, but also great men of science (one case that comes to mind was the astronomer and TV commentator Carl Sagan lobbying for sending men on Mars), and who were, and continue to be, ready to sacrifice several smaller good science projects in the name of big science. And interestingly, the few successes of these mammoth projects where prevalently in the field of pure science, not in the applied sciences. Which again underlines how misplaced it is to ask a priori for practical results. Maybe it is time to learn that it is nature that should guide us to potential applications, instead of trying to predict it with our limited understanding.

But should we become against science? No, quite the contrary: we should double our spending for science. But into the right ones and especially in the right manner. And who decides what the right ones are supposed to be? Of course this will forever remain a subjective point of view. But what about funding several small science projects instead of a single big science one? Does it really make sense to divert all the funds, efforts and skills of people into the n-th mammoth project? What about spending several smaller amounts of money in many risky projects than huge amounts into mainstream ones? It is a paradox that now it has become easier to get mi-bi-tri-zillions funds for conventionally accepted lines of research, than few thousands dollars for small and cheap original projects. It is sometimes almost impossible to get only 50.000$ for a post-doc, working on a little but novel and original nontraditional line of research, just because it is new (i.e. risky), original (i.e. of uncertain outcome), and non-mainstream (read: it is about giving out money to the ‘black sheep’ who does not bleat with the flock). Also statistical and historic studies suggest [3] how the scientific impact per dollar is lower for large grant-holders, and that the hypothesis that larger grants lead to larger discoveries is inconsistent. We should reconsider this enthusiasm for stratospheric projects. It is not about abolishing entirely big science, which might still be unavoidable in some fields, but it is about rediscovering the potentials of the individual scientist.

In fact, the real point is that despite all these huge investments in science, academic projects, and consistent cultural and scientific promotions, yet there has been no real paradigm shift. Sure, you will be able to name a lot of great scientists, Nobel laureates, and geniuses who made groundbreaking discoveries till to our days. But where are the new Copernicus, Kepler, Galilei, Newton or Einstein? It seems that after Einstein the scientific genius is extinct. [4]

It was no big science and huge industrialized academic structures that convinced a doctor of canon law, like Nicolaus Copernicus, that the Sun is at the center of the solar system. Heliocentrism was a principle embraced for some very simple observational and aesthetic reasons. Big science did not lead to new great paradigm shifts like that of relativity, which was sparked by ‘Mister nobody’, i.e. Albert Einstein, working in a Swiss patent office. No new ‘quantum revolution’ is in sight like that introduced around the beginning of the 20th century by some professor with zero research funds like Max Planck, but who informed the world that he had a crazy idea he himself could hardly believe in: energy must be absorbed in discrete quantities, not in a continuous fashion. Nowadays we are looking for the theory which should unify gravity with electromagnetic and nuclear forces. Generations of physicists searched for it for about the last 70 years, but still there is today no new Planck alleviating their pains. Are the great paradigm shifts, the Copernican revolutions of the past, definitely over? Why don’t we see also today new groundbreaking theories, like that of relativity and quantum mechanics which changed our worldview, considered the great efforts and expenditures of big science? Of course, lots of original ideas are seen today too, but most coming from complicated calculations, not from some fundamentally new ‘way of seeing’ the world. New first principles are lacking. Why? How could that be? Shouldn’t a world where science is so central, so encouraged and funded reserve ample space for creative scientific thinkers?

Ernest Rutherford, the famous physicist and Nobel laureate who is considered the father of modern nuclear physics, is often cited as being the initiator of modern big science. He lead the Cavendish Lab in Cambridge, UK, from 1919 until his death in 1937. Under his direction also other researchers and students made historic discoveries in atom physics, and many of them received the Nobel prize too. Yet much of the work in his laboratory used simple, inexpensive devices, and things did not proceed as one would expect in a top research center. A former student (and also Nobel laureate), James Chadwick confessed: “I did a lot of experiments about which I never said anything. Some of them were quite stupid. I suppose I got that habit or impulse, or whatever you’d like to call it, from Rutherford. He would do some damn silly experiments at times, and we did some together. They were really damned silly. But if we’d gotten a positive result, they wouldn’t have been silly.” [5] While Mark Oliphant, another student and coworker of Rutherford, said: “Rutherford also lectured on the atom, with great enthusiasm, but not always coherently or well prepared”. [6] How is it that a laboratory with simple equipment and roughly thirty research students who (more or less secretly) made “stupid” and “silly” experiments and where lectured by “unprepared” people, could nevertheless produce copiously Nobel laureates and rewrite entire chapters of the history of the 20th century physics, while so many other big science projects funded with billions of dollars and run by thousands of scientists failed to furnish also nearly comparable results?

The typical objection is that some discoveries will never again come from little projects, and the times of the lonely genius working in the patent office, or the science project led by a bunch of smart but unorganized people, are over. The test of new theories, and the advancement of science now needs a huge concentrated financial and human effort that little research laboratories can’t afford. Nowadays interdisciplinary collaborations of big teams with complex hi-tech hardware is necessary if we want to disclose the secrets of the universe. This is the argument.
Admittedly, there is some truth in that. Without the HST and large colliders our understanding of the universe would not have progressed in some sectors of fundamental science. But the unwarranted conclusion that the times of the intuitive, independent and original thinkers are over, has no grounds. They are not, and must inevitably come back, since creativity and curiosity are intrinsic in human nature, they make part of an inner expression of the homo sapiens, and are not just a fashion which comes and goes.

We are living in times where the creative thinker, guided by an inner intrinsic motivation, is simply de-selected by the system a priori. The problem is that science has become too ‘central’, in the sense that it is too centralized, industrialized. Big science has become also a big enterprise with a big army, organized according to a managerial bottom-up hierarchy of subordinate and obedient employee who are pressured continuously by deadlines assigned from the top, and which tells them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. A system that officially tells us to encourages independent thinking, but truth goes exactly in the opposite direction. In its intrinsic structure and organization it is incapable to leave much space, if any, to the personal and spontaneous development of the genius. It should have been clear since the beginning that it couldn’t deliver the promises it made. It is time to rethink all that from the ground up.


[1] E. C. Hayden, “Life is complicated,” Nature, vol. 464, p. 664, 1 April 2010.
[2] “Stem cells: what happened to the radical breakthroughs?,” The Observer, Sunday 11 August 2013.
[3] Jean-Michel Fortin, David J. Currie, “Big Science vs. Little Science: How Scientific Impact Scales with Funding”, PLoS ONE 8(6): e65263. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065263
[4] D. K. Simonton, “After Einstein: Scientific genius is extinct,” Nature, vol. 493, no. 7434, 2013.
[5] “Oral History Transcript — Sir James Chadwick. Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics.,”
[6] “American Institute of Physics’s Center for History of Physics, “Rutherford’s nuclear world”,”