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It was too much to suppress. He said, “Tomorrow’s the first of May. Olympics!” And that led to his first quarrel with Omani and to Omani’s bitter enunciation of the exact name of the institution in which George found himself.

Omani gazed fixedly at George and said distinctly, “A House for the Feeble-minded.”

George Platen flushed. Feeble-minded!

He rejected it desperately. He said in a monotone, “I’m leaving.” He said it on impulse. His conscious mind learned it first from the statement as he uttered it.

Omani, who had returned to his book, looked up. “What?”

George knew what he was saying now. He said it fiercely, “I’m leaving.”

“That’s ridiculous. Sit down, George, calm yourself.”

“Oh, no. I’m here on a frame-up, I tell you. This doctor, Antonelli, took a dislike to me. It’s the sense of power these petty bureaucrats have. Cross them and they wipe out your life with a stylus mark on some card file.”

“Are you back to that?”

“And staying there till it’s all straightened out. I’m going to get to Antonelli somehow, break him, force the truth out of him.” George was breathing heavily and he felt feverish. Olympics month was here and he couldn’t let it pass. If he did, it would be the final surrender and he would be lost for all time.

--"Profession", by Isaac Asimov


"Autodidact" is a very scary word, both for the individual themselves, and for the society that acts a host to such a creature. Are autodidacts predators? Parasites? Pests? Infections? Signs of moral decay?

Actually, that last seems the most appropriate. Many people can choose a profession, be taught all that needs to be known and can be known, and pursue employment in a given field. These people will always be more or less happy with the systems of education and employment that are available to them. In our own world, the more wealth an individual has at their disposal, the wider the variety of choices they have as to the institution and program of learning available to them.

But there are those that will never be happy, no matter how wide a field of choice is arrayed before them. They consider themselves "unemployable", and perhaps go on to become entrepreneurs, if they have the necessary resources and resourcefulness. Some become very successful at it, and go on to manage small corporations that grow nearly exponentially.

But what about those without such resources, or who are so intelligent that they ask questions that others simply cannot understand, much less answer? Are they "feeble-minded"? Why do measures of eminence fall off a cliff as people pass an IQ of 130, moving toward 160? What happens to those few persons (who must exist, in so large a world, right?) who pass beyond even 160 IQ? What sense do they make to those around them?

Have you read this story? Are you a teacher, or an expert in Pedagogy, or Child Psychology? Or do you just trust to the knowledge imprinted upon you? Why bother taking an active and vital interest in knowledge you have to ladle into your mind, bit by bit? P;D

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