Forced Schooling: The Antidote for Genius

by Todd Walker

What’s nepenthe?

Design for Periodic GeNiUS

Nepenthe – (nuh-PENTH-ee)


1. a potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow

2. something capable of causing oblivion of grief or suffering

My cache of fancy words is limited. I try to follow this simple rule when writing: Don’t be tempted by a 20-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy.

Sometimes, only the 20-dollar word will do.

Nepenthe popped up in my “Word of the Day” email on my school computer. A curious word, no doubt.

I had just finished Lew Rockwell‘s podcast interview with John Taylor Gatto on my morning commute. Both men being heroes of mine, this post began taking shape.

One statement John made that got my attention was…

genius is as common as the air we breathe. 

That’s a bold statement. If I made that statement around some teacher friends, we’d all give it a good chuckle and a resounding, “Right!”

We can’t see the genius for all the compulsory regulations and restrictions. To counteract genius and critical thinking in schools, we serve heaping doses of the balm of forgetting. Sweet relief comes by removing all recollection of our history and replacing it with the revised Hollywood version.

God cannot alter the past, but historians can.

– Samuel Butler

Is genius really that common today?

According to Mr. Gatto, it is, and history proves it.

  • The U.S. was the patent king at the beginning of the 20th century. We owned 92% of the worlds patents. 
  • How could a no good 12 year-old worker named Andrew Carnegie coiled twine on bobbins and one day become one of the richest men on our planet?
  • Other notable figures were written off early in life who later reveled their genius.

Before the turn of the 20th century, forced schooling in America was nowhere near the size and scope of today’s Leviathan-like institution. There were no centers for habit training where intellectual development was retarded. Now we train students to be obedient and pliable conformists. Our colonial forefathers would have never resisted tyranny had they been government schooled.

Our present consumerist economic model requires that future wage slaves never reach self-sufficiency. Any independent thinking threatens to sever the head of the beast. His fight or flight primal instinct kicks in. The serpent tempts us with another mind-numbing-dumbing dose to help ease the pain of forgotten genius.

Laissez-fair schooled geniuses

In “Is Public Education Necessary?“, Samuel Blumenfeld performs a great service in exposing the intellectual elite’s plan to reign in the “rebel” individualist and pioneering spirit that founded this nation. Ask any loyal educrat and they probably won’t know that wholesale government education didn’t exist in the 18th century. And somehow our population was educated without coercion and force – even without Al Gore’s internet.

Our cherry picked curriculum doesn’t mention that educational freedom in colonial days, free of governmental control, produced far better results than modern government-run schools. Here are a few inconvenient facts educated elites hope remain forgotten.

  • Based on the evidence of signatures on deeds, wills, militia rolls, and voting rosters, adult male literacy in American colonies ran from 70 to 100 percent. 
  • George Washington was educated by his father and half-brother.
  • Benjamin Franklin was taught to read by his father and attended a private school for writing and arithmetic.
  • Thomas Jefferson studied Latin and Greek under a tutor.
  • Of the 117 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, one out of three had only a few months of formal schooling, and only one in four had gone to college.

5 tips to finding your genius within

Could little geniuses be filling cramped public school houses all across America? Of course! They’ve just never been weaned off the nepenthe of forced schooling.

Here are 5 tips to help you discover your child genius.

Albert Einstein

Stop sipping on your potion of forgetfulness for a second.

Start listing all your ideas. Sticky notes, napkins, notebooks. Doesn’t matter where you write them. Just write them down.

1. Practice writing ten new ideas everyday. You’ll find that one idea will spawn new ideas. Keep writing. Ten daily is the minimum maintenance required. This keeps your idea machine from rusting. Think of it as motor oil for the brain. When I neglect this practice, my mind doesn’t run at peak performance levels.

2. Shamelessly steal ideas. I’m not saying plagiarise here. But when you see a good idea, make it better. A “nobody” could improve a product or machine or idea, patent it, and put the original out of business.

Your masterpiece is carved by removing the stuff that doesn’t fit…little pieces at a time. What are you creating?

3. Read. Widely. Outside your field. Create connections to what may seem unrelated to your idea. Use the shotgun approach. Cross pollination in the garden of ideas is a good thing.

4. Get lost. Daydreaming may get you a reprimand from your teacher or boss, but it’s such an important incubator for creativity and genius. I hate telling students to get back on task. I really want to join them in their mental adventure. They seem lost in their own weird little world. It’s a survival technique.

Creativity is the residue of time wasted.
~Albert Einstein

There’s a time to focus on our job or work, but daydreaming is time well spent. Do it often.

5. Live unplugged. Throw it in the woods. Cure your nature deficit-disorder. In “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder” Richard Louv relates the importance of getting in touch with the wild side of our nature. I haven’t finished the book, but definitely see Nature Deficit-Disorder in kids today. Here’s a telling quote from a fourth grader response in the book:

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.” 

If you can’t get in the woods, simply sitting outside to read your paper and drink your coffee or tea stimulates your senses. Do stuff differently. Stay out sterile environments as much as humanly possible.

Another path exists. What’s keeping you from discovering your child genius?

Doing the stuff,



Here’s a sample of my brain working to come up with possible headlines for this post:

School History: Drink Nepenthe to Swallow It

Does Your Child Drink the Nepenthe Potion in School

You Must Drink Nepenthe to Swallow the Lies…

Drink this Potion and Live Happily Ever After

Washing Down the Dumbness with Nepenthe

Genius is Forgotten with Nepenthe

Forgetting Your Genius Within

The Potion That Kills Genius

Nepenthe: Dumbing Down Your Unique Genius

This Tempting Potion Washes Your Child’s Genius Away

Did I choose correctly?

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Government "Education" | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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