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Teenage genius Jacob Barnett wants you to stop learning and start thinking, in this inspiring TEDx talk

Alex Masters

Meet Jacob Barnett, a 14-year-old genius with an inspirational outlook on education and creative thinking. At the tender age of 13, this teenage astrophysicist published research materials on the Big Bang and Special Relativity, so you’d probably expect him to be quite the proponent of education, right? Well he is and he isn’t.

jacob 300x225 Teenage genius Jacob Barnett wants you to stop learning and start thinking, in this inspiring TEDx talkYou see, Jacob’s motto is ‘stop learning and start thinking’. An odd concept to grasp at the best of times, especially considering the words are flowing from the mouth of an autistic 13-year-old boy. (His age in the video below)

Yes, that’s right, Jacob is autistic. Autistic individuals are often characterised by impaired social interaction and communication, and yet despite his age and condition, Jacob’s stage presence is equal parts natural and captivating. His ability to engage with an audience seems almost effortless, thanks to his infectious passion and drive.

Some people might read that word and make assumptions based on what they think autism is, but there are many forms and levels of autism, so I ask you to leave your assumptions at the door. Instead, sit back and enjoy the following 20 minute TEDx talk with an open mind and I promise you, you’ll never look at autism, or learning, the same way again.

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  • RichardMahony

    We don’t educate kids. We school them and we train ‘em – or try to. Nothing wrong with that but it ain’t education.

    I began educating myself years after I had finished my very expensive and next to useless formal education, including many years spent ‘learning’ about physics and philosophy in a supposedly top English university..

    I still don’t know or understand much, but at least now I know how little I know or understand.

  • Munkstar

    Everybody has a bit of a ‘trait’, it’s the percentiles of them that get you pigeon holed.


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