“No tools will make a man a skilled workman who has not learned how to use them, and has never bestowed any attention on them…The tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.” Socrates
Significant accomplishments in our American past by young people who had talent, energy, enthusiasm, and total commitment but who were without formal academic credentials are simply too numerous to record. We are so much under the spell of the new scholasticism that we often forget that the building of this country down nearly to the close of the last century was to a large extent accomplished without benefit of degrees and diplomas.
There is a mistaken notion that schooling and education are the same thing. They are not. Schooling is, or should be, only a minor and specialized part of the larger educational process.
This is neither to reject formal academic training nor to deny its worth within limits, but to insist that it is not the only way; that it is not for everyone all the time.
It should hardly be necessary to say that the educational needs of different individuals are different and differ at different periods of their lives. Some are never comfortable or fully productive in a classroom setting. Some are not ready for it at the appointed time. Others outgrow it quickly.
And some need to expend physical energy and to manipulate the physical environment, thinking with their hands and the muscles of their backs, as it were, as well as their heads, and reaping enormous satisfaction when they get tangible results as successful craftsmen and builders.
John Gardner—founder of Mystic Seaport Museum, speaking at the National Small Craft Conference, spring 1978