October 24, 2014

Joi Ito prides himself on being a rebel. But he worries that Americans - students, in particular - may be losing their love of rebelliousness.

"The way I explain it is, you don't get a Nobel Prize for doing what you're told. You get a Nobel Prize for questioning authority and thinking for yourself."

At PopTech 2014, Ito, the director of MIT's Media Lab, said that our educational system values conformity, lectures, and deference to power. But a little adversity may not be such a bad thing.

It's like the immune system, he argues. "The more it gets attacked - as long as you don't die - the stronger it gets and the smarter it gets… If you a take a kid and you raise the kid in a clean room with no bacteria, the kid will be so fragile that the minute they walk out of that clean room, they'll probably die."

Could American culture - which famously celebrates the cowboy, the pioneer, the easy rider - be ditching its loner ethos?

Ito says that's exactly what's happening - and science may support his theory. At MIT, Ito's colleagues measured a student's brain activity for an entire week and found that attending class tended to result in even less activity than sleep.

"We need creative learning," Ito says. "The creativity is the thing that the computers can't do. All the repetitive physical and mental jobs will be taken over by computers."

Listen to our interview with Ito about creativity - and find out whether he thinks whether others should follow his example and drop out of college.

creativity, Culture, Pop Tech 2014, Joi Ito

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