On American Campuses, Does Innovation = Punishment?

By on August 17, 2012

In my most recent Daily Caller piece, I argue that sometimes it does. And unfortunately, it’s a coast-to-coast problem, with both the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Central Florida recently taking actions to make sure that students who engaged in what I guess you could call "unauthorized innovation" faced punishment instead of praise.

Growing up, one of my favorite books was a book about the legendary culture of pranks at MIT (in fact, MIT is where the term "hacker" came from) called The Journal of the Institute for Hacks, Tomfoolery & Pranks at MIT (now apparently superseded by a more recent volume called Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT). I highly recommend it to you and your teenage kids. The level of sophistication, innovation, and just plain hard work involved in many of these pranks was amazing—not surprising, as a guy you might have heard of, Richard Feynman, was involved in some of them.

Thankfully, it’s my understanding that this culture continues at MIT today. But unfortunately, MIT is apparently the outlier when it comes to accepting that brilliant students sometimes think outside the box. While I’m no Feynman, I do have some theories as to why this might be. But you’ll have to go on over to The Daily Caller to find out what they are.