Inspiration vs. Perspiration

One day I want to spend a few months reading about the great inventors of history.  It's crazy to think that we can turn on a light or answer the phone thanks to people like Thomas Edison and others who invented things that did not yet exist in the human mind.

I've been reading an incredible book by cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham called Why Don't Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom in preparation for teaching as an adjunct professor this fall at North Central University.  It's really a brilliant book, with so much great insight into how our brain works, how we learn and how to become wise.  In one chapter, Willingham explains the importance of practice in becoming an expert in any field.  He shares briefly about the "ten year rule," and how it is pretty well proven that it takes about 10 years to be an expert in any field.  He explains that we remember knowledge better when we study periodically over long periods of time, rather than "cramming."  

Love what he shares about concerning studies of some of the most brilliant people in the world, "The results of these studies are fairly consistent in one surprising finding.  The great minds of science were not distinguished as being exceptionally brilliant, as measured by standard IQ tests; they were very smart, to be sure, but not the standouts that their stature in their fields might suggest.  What was singular was their capacity for sustained work.  Great scientists are almost always workaholics ... Great scientists have incredible persistence, and their threshold for mental exhaustion is very high." (p. 139)

In another section, he elaborates on "Thomas Alva Edison, who is famous for inventing or greatly improving the light bulb, the flouroscope (and early version of the X-ray machine), the phonograph, and motion pictures.  Edison is also famous for his work habits; one-hundred-hour workweeks were not uncommon, and he often took cat naps in his laboratory rather than sleeping at home.  It is small wonder he said that "genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration." (p. 140)