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The museum’s instructors would give these fascinating two-hour lectures and demonstrate the laws of physics using hands-on experiments.They would also quiz us on the museum’s exhibits, and all the kids would try to show off by having every answer.(We found no evidence of psychic ability.) The program was cut due to lack of funding, and by middle school I was back in the regular classes of roughly 25 students to a teacher.I continued to accumulate A’s, cutting classes whenever I could, learning nothing.I have little recollection of what I was taught in my class of 25, but I remember everything I learned in my class of 3.Back in the 1960s Bruno Bettelheim gave a talk to my senior class in high school.Five months earlier I graduated from Yale University with the intention of becoming a licensed historian who could be counted upon to attach the name of a dead poet or an unhorsed king to the appropriate zeitgeist. Great news, he said, but maybe you could spare a few moments for the 12th century?
(Hitler then prevented his receiving a doctorate in psychology, his ultimate field.) He told us to beware of committing to anything until we knew for sure what we wanted to be, but recommended that we set out to become dedicated ABD (all-but-degree) students of everything that excited our minds.
Before reaching the general theory, you see, we like to have in hand a passing acquaintance with at least some of the facts.
When I was 9 and 10 years old, there was a program in the New Jersey public schools for “gifted children.” Several afternoons a week, we would be excused from our regular classrooms and go to a separate room with a separate teacher, Mrs. One semester I wrote and directed a play, cast it, designed costumes, built sets and finally performed it for the whole school. Lachel and I joined a parapsychological society, then devised tests for telepathy and tested all the teachers and principals.
Figuring out how things work — and how they can work better — is what led me to become an engineer, a technology entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a mayor.
I guess I can count my lucky stars that there were no Saturday morning cartoons when I was kid.
When I was growing up, Saturday mornings meant one thing only to me: a trip to the Boston Museum of Science.