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Think Differently


Since I was young, I have always found myself pushing back against authority, and against conformity. I struggled listening to teachers and superiors telling me not only what the appropriate way to act was, but what the appropriate way to think was as well. I struggled with what their words demanded, and what my evolving worldview and value system was telling me.  I struggled as to what type of person I wanted to be, and what type of life I wanted to live. This internal struggle proved troublesome at times, especially at West Point and in the military, where conformity and obedience are not only expected, but mandated.

Upon graduating from West Point the pace of my personal development accelerated rapidly. For the first time in my life I was responsible for really taking care of myself, paying bills, and not simply going through the motions on some mandated academic schedule that some adult came up with based on the interests of other adults.  Experiences such as failed personal relationships, traveling to third world countries, and mentoring children allowed me to reflect on what I truly valued in life, something that I was never assigned to do in school.  My real education finally began in earnest after my formal education ended.

Occasionally, I have come across works which have touched me and propelled me forward. For example, Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged allowed me to realize that individual achievement is not a sin, but a virtue that we should not be ashamed of pursuing. The Hindi movie Black, an adaptation of the Helen Keller story, forced me to reevaluate the definition of service that had been drilled into me in the military.  And then there was the Think Differently television ad from Mac that I never cared to take notice of until I was reintroduced to it a year or two ago.

Think Differently is a simple black and white commercial which flips through video snippets of seventeen 20th century personalities. This group is comprised of outcasts, people who by their nature are not conformists. Each of them in some way took risks, did the unexpected, and broke the rules. In doing so they changed and shaped the world. While I don’t put myself in that group of luminaries, I finally found the words that allowed me to fully embrace my nonconformist identity. If I wanted to change the world, I had to be willing to be seen as a crazy one.


Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Knowing that the public education system tends to destroy the individuality and creativity of children, I recently decided to revisit this video to see how many of the icons were at least partially homeschooled, private schooled, or rejected public schooling by dropping out.  Only five of the 17 graduated from public schools.  Of those five, two dropped out of college.

Homeschooled, private schooled, or dropouts:

  • Albert Einstein – homeschooled during two separate periods, extensive self directed study (unschooling), high school dropout
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. – dropped out, enrolled in college at 15
  • Richard Branson – dropped out (read John Taylor Gatto for more on Branson’s education)
  • Buckminster Fuller – private school, college dropout
  • Thomas Edison – homeschooled
  • Muhammad Ali – dropped out
  • Ted Turner – private school, did not graduate college (expelled)
  • Maria Callas – private school
  • Amelia Earhart – homeschooled
  • Alfred Hitchcock – voluntary aided school (most similar to an independent charter school)
  • Frank Lloyd Wright – dropped out
  • Pablo Picasso – partially homeschooled, dropped out

Public schooled:

  • Bob Dylan – dropped out of college
  • John Lennon – dropped out of college
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Martha Graham
  • Jim Henson

This should not come as a surprise to those of us who have come to understand the public education system for what it is.  Public education destroys individuality and creativity.  It says to our children that their worth is dictated not by their values or their mastery of skills, but by the year in which they were born. It says that success is regurgitation, a worthless high school diploma, and an overpriced college degree. It says to our children, “sit down, shut up, and don’t speak unless spoken to”.  There is no room for self expression in a class of 30 trying to stick to a lesson plan that is tied to a curriculum that is driven by special interests.  Our public school system is destroying the spirit of the next generation; it is destroying the lives of the people who would propel society forward. We cannot wait for our politicians to finally put children before campaign contributions and votes. If we want to give our children a better future, we must start right now by providing them with individualized learning experiences that cater to their unique learning needs. We must free them so they too can be counted among the crazy ones.


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2 Responses to " Think Differently "

  1. Raymond says:

    Thanks for sharing your inspirational story with us Antonio. I hope you are able to change education in America like you said you will. Our kids need you.

    • Antonio Buehler says:

      Thanks, Raymond, we will do exactly that. We just need all the busybodies to get out of the way of the people who want to educate the children.

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