Nurturing Brilliance

“If it’s a boy, he will be a scientist.”
Mellville Feynman -1918

I want to read that man’s blog on parenting.  Or maybe a book would be more elucidating.  From Richard Feynman’s memoirs, it didn’t sound like he was of the “Tiger Mom” philosophical camp.  In fact it sounds like at about age 16 Richard’s intellectual accomplishments began to surpass those of his father.

“Pity the student that doesn’t surpass his master”
Leonado Da Vinci

What this quote says to me is that a student’s goal is not to gain all the knowledge the master has to teach.  That philosophy would lead to an asymptotic trajectory, and a stagnation of all human knowledge.  What a good mentor wants  to bestow is the tools and the mentality that has gotten him where he is.  If you get that, and the knowledge of the master at an earlier point in your career that’s where new ideas come from.  That’s how new things get done.  Or that’s the traditional standing on the shoulders of giants way.

Aside:  When Isaac Newton said he only accomplished what he had by “Standing on the shoulders of giants” this was not an uncharacteristic statement of humility, but rather a short joke.


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