Acton Institute Powerblog

The Wisdom of Woz

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Steve Wozniak, famed inventor of Apple I, Apple II, and the original Apple software, has a new autobiography coming out. Here is a snippet from a Businessweek interview where he gives a nice, Actony take on creativity and education.

Are there larger lessons that you have drawn about creativity and innovation?
That schools close us off from creative development. They do it because education has to be provided to everyone, and that means that government has to provide it, and that’s the problem.

An interesting followup: according to a 2002 Census report, 76% of American business owners do not have a college degree, (24% have a high school equivalent or less).

I am certainly not anti-education, but the point is this: there is something other than education that drives people to create. We must begin (again) instilling in our children the old-fashioned-American-ingenuity-Do-It-Yourself mentality, the kind of thinking that encourages entrepreneurialism and creativity. These sorts of people are the ones who make huge differences in the lives of everyone (i.e. personal computers).

David Michael Phelps


  • Is Actony a word? If I lose my keys, would I pracy to St. Actony for their discovery?



  • David Michael Phelps

    (ăk’ tōn ē) adj. 1. commonsensical 2. showing a preference for freedom 3. irascibly opposed to unchecked power

  • We’ve already had “Acton-ish” and now “Actony,” this week. I’ve always preferred “Actonesque,” myself.

  • (Pun 2), I if lose my liberty, I would hold a Novena to St. Actony for its recovery.



  • Mixed response to this one:

    Woz said, “They do it because education has to be provided to everyone, and that means that government has to provide it, and that’s the problem.”

    Not so. Food is needed by everyone as well, yet the government does not need to provide it. At best, government may be needed to provide *funding* for universal education, but that certainly does not mean that it’s a good idea for a government to control the actual education of children.

    Regarding creativity: Schools today are hardly known as places for dampening creativity, in fact, they’re running hog wild with it. Just about every subject in school today is an opportunity for art projects, posters, PowerPoint wizz-bang stuff, videos, interpretive dance, etc. On the other hand, specific curriculum content has been so dumbed-down in most schools that you can’t be sure that any child will ever learn much of anything specific. Forget that a child will ever learn anything about Napoleon or Wordsworth — there is so much “creativity” going on in schools that there isn’t much focus left!

    By the way, I just love it when extraordinarily successful people like Wozniak (or many others) complain about their “stiffling” educations — which an objective observer would conclude may have led to them being the successes that they are. (For more, see “Victims of Traditional Education”, at )

    By the way, I attended a function in Chicago a number of years ago in honor of Steve Wozniak. Unfortunately, he could not make it, and the award was picked up by his uncle ( I believe), a Father Wozniak!