Iatrogenic Teaching – Wolves vs Sheep

The key to be a contributing citizen in today’s society is to be able to produce an idea from your brain that wasn’t put in there.  Indeed, the only way that humanity makes progress is with new ideas.

Unfortunately, there is very little opportunity for students to practice coming up with new ideas in many classes at today’s universities.  The professors give the students the standard ideas and the students take notes (many universities teach students how to take notes), study them and then regurgitate those ideas on a test.  Much of “learning” involves stimulus – response rather than deep, original thought.

This produces sheep.  To be able to contribute to today’s society, it helps to be a wolf.  In the introduction to, “Heard on the Street – Quantitative Questions from Wall Street Job Interviews” by Timothy Falcon Crack, he writes:

“This book bridges the considerable gap between the typical education and the knowledge required to successfully answer job interview questions.  The considerable gap arises because interviewers must separate the wolves from the sheep.  The sheep are confined by the boundaries of their education. The wolves are not.  Of course, most interviewers are wolves.

Unfortunately, most interviewees are sheep.  The “butchering” that can take place in these interviews is horrific.”

The salient point here is that sheep are confined by the boundaries of their education and wolves are not.

Wolves are gritty, tenacious, clever, and creative.  They don’t like to follow the rules.  They spend a lot of time wondering.  Their minds are always on.  When presented with a challenging problem that they have never seen before the wolves think, “I have never seen a problem like this before, what a great opportunity to learn!”  Wolves have a “gimme the damn ball” attitude.  Wolves are antifragile to challenging problems.

Sheep are passive thinkers.  They need a set of rules to follow and they enjoy following them.  Their minds are on standby unless they get a stimulus.  They would rather be members of the audience of life and they are terrified of getting called on when they don’t know the answer.  Sheep treat a challenging problem as an unpleasant duty to avoid and are fragile to challenging problems.

All humans are born wolves.  Many become sheep because they are raised by “soccer mom” parents who never want them to fail at anything and an education system that safely guides them to the right answer and applauds them for getting there.

Sheep can graduate from many universities with honors and a high GPA because a high GPA and accolades from many of today’s universities indicate compliance to old ideas rather than the generation of new ideas.

The human society needs wolves, not sheep.  Sheep are very good at stimulus response; if I see this, then I do this.  However, this type of “if – then” reasoning is exactly what a computer does.  Sheep can be replaced by computers.  Wolves cannot.

Be a wolf.