Where would we be without school drop outs?

Nine Shift (required reading in my opinion) explains in “Schools depend on drop outs”, that the education monopoly is not primarily responsible for innovation in our society. Bill and Julie show how young men (yes, it’s usually boys who quit) who drop out of school are often the ones who go on to achieve great things. Notable drop outs:

Bill Gates – Microsoft
Steve Jobs – Apple
Michael Dell – Dell
Larry Ellison – Oracle
Mike Lazaridis – Blackberry
Shawn Fanning – Napster

What technologies would schools use without these guys?

11 Responses to “Where would we be without school drop outs?”

  1. leaveacomment

    Bill Gates – Microsoft

    Run a company that crushes innovation and is up on charges by the Department of Justice, all on a mediocre operating system.

    Michael Dell – Dell

    Build a company up, then tear it down again.

    Larry Ellison – Oracle

    Build a company that only stays in business by extensive government contracts from your friends.

    Mike Lazaridis – Blackberry

    Actually has a degree. Build a company from extensive federal and university subsidies that is stolen from a programmer in the states. Get close to bankruptcy when they threaten to sue, get the feds to lobby for your settlement.

    Shawn Fanning – Napster

    Build a software system with the sole purpose of ripping off music artists and recording companies. Go bankrupt when you get nailed for it. Get bought out by appeasing the suits that sued you.

    STAY IN SCHOOL. At least it may teach you some morals.

  2. Harold

    Well said, LAC. I wasn’t sure about posting this, but figured it may get a conversation going. Do you really think that staying in school is a better option?

    I disagree on your comment about Shawn Fanning. Napster just tested the waters. It wasn’t about ripping off the artists. The big labels have been doing that for years.

  3. David Delgado

    Now I understand why Google guys are conquering the World: it is so easy to compete with those folks. ;-) They did not drop out, in fact they developed Google when they were Ph. D. candidates. They built the first search engine that just worked. They just realised that it was nonsense having millions of results without sorting them by importante. To get that done, they just applied Informetrics (I also studied that in my first Ph D Courses). Linus Torvals also did not drop out, and he developed Linux.

    Anyway, I do agree with you: there are things much more important than to be a drop out or not. In fact, as Bruce Springsteen said “We learned more from a 3 minute record than we ever learned in school”. To have “official” higher education just brings you more resources you can work with. The imporant thing, however, is not the number of resources you have, but how do you use those resources. :-)

  4. Miguel Guhlin

    In response to your question, “What technologies would schools use without these guys?”
    how about another question?

    How about GNU/Linux? Sure save us lots of money and model freedom rather than pay it lip service. But it’s tough…too much money changing hands.


  5. Harold

    I agree, Miguel. I’m a strong proponent of open source technologies, and copyleft, in schools, as they promote innovation and reduce costs.

  6. graham watt

    Harold Innis in The Bias of Communication quotes Leslie Stephen referring to a time when there was no system of education in England,(late 18th, early 19th century):
    “There is probably no period in English history at which a greater number of poor men have risen to distinction. Receptivity of information which is cultivated and rewarded in schools and also in universities is a totally different thing from the education, sometimes conferred even by adverse circumstances, which trains a man to seize opportunities either of learning or of advancement. One need mention only the names of Burns, Paine, Cobbett, William Gifford, John Dalton, Porson, Joseph White, Robert Owen and Joseph Lancaster.
    These dudes all have their counterparts today. Morals be damned relative to formal education. The jails are filling with guys with degrees.

  7. Phil

    According to Fanning, Napster was built to mimic the file sharing of news. And news sharing of commercial music was by and large illegal. Napster was all about pirated music. That was the only reason anyone I knew used it.

    The fact that artists are getting screwed doesn’t mean that there’s only one person screwing them.

    Slimy enemies does not make one automatically sanctimonious.

    As for dropping out, a lot of these folks developed their businesses during college. It’s not like they dropped out, spent four months working at Burger King and then came up with a killer idea. My point is not that dropping out or staying in is a good idea, but rather that following a good idea is in itself a good idea.

  8. Harold

    That’s great advice, Phil, and what I tell our two boys – follow your passion, whether it be in school or outside.

  9. Dave

    As long as the debate is between school and no school there will probably always be too many dropouts. One great advantage of the private school system is that parents and children can choose *which* school is right for them. Too bad, though, for those who can’t afford a private school and are stuck with one model. Then there’s no choice but to hope it fits you and your children.

  10. William Draves

    Friends, glad to see all the comments. There are 2 million smart boys missing from college every year. But all the boy drop outs want to go to college. Every drop out wanted to finish. It’s just that our college/system is obsolete and broke right now.

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