Innovation Myths in Schoolhouse Rock

newton.jpgWhen lecturing about creativity I often ask the crowd how they know what they know – How do we really know Edison invented the lightbulb, or that Newton got hit by an apple? A common answer from audiences of my generation is the popular cartoon Schoolhouse Rock. It’s curious how we dismiss things by saying “it’s just for kids”, but what happens when those kids grow up?

I loved Schoolhouse rock as a child, and it’s probably the only reason I know what a conjunction is. But in watching a local performance of the musical based on the TV show, I found some problems with the stories that I learned, stories I researched for The Myths of Innovation.

The story of Newton, and epiphany in general, is the subject of chapter 1 of the Myths of Innovation, titled The Myth of Epiphany which you can read about here.

4 Responses to “Innovation Myths in Schoolhouse Rock”

  1. Pam

    Ford was actually far from the first American to build an automobile, he just designed a better one. Have you read John Lienhard’s books How Invention Begins and Inventing Modern. Fun to read (at least my students like them), thoughtful history of technology.

  2. Schizohedron

    Never underestimate early-childhood programming. A friend one year behind me in high school reported that his history class, when given a quiz in which they had to write out the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, AS ONE began humming the “We the People” song so they could remember the words. Sadly, the lyrics omit “of the United States” after “We the People,” and consequently, many lost points.

    1. David Salter

      That four word omission has driven me nuts ever since I grew old enough to become aware of it. It escapes me why it was necessary, as i don’t believe it would’ve been impossible to make the song scan properly with the single added phrase.



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