Richard Feynman about his father

This 6 minute clip is Richard Feynman talking about how he was educated by his father.

Feynman was, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, an “American theoretical physicist who was widely regarded as the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era.”

In this clip, he talks about sitting on his dad’s lap and being read pages from the Encyclopedia Britannica (and having the information made real for him), the difference between learning human things (such as bird names) versus observing what a bird is doing, and questioning his father about a ball’s movement in a wagon he was pulling.

The quote I honed in on:  “[My father] knew the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”

Now, we can’t all be stellar at science like Feynman’s father was. But it turns out science was merely his father’s pet interest; the guy made his living as a varied businessman.

Today, parents have the Internet on their side. When my daughter asks me an interesting question, we discuss possible answers before I tell her the most likely answer. If I don’t know or can’t properly explain, we resolve to consult the Internet at our next opportunity. There’s greater opportunity and excitement in learning when your parent doesn’t know everything and the two of you can learn together.


One Response to “Richard Feynman about his father”

  1. Phil says:

    What an awesome time we live in to raise children. My parents go-to line used to be “Go get the encyclopedia!”

    With my kids, we can look it up online and get instant multimedia immersion. My son asked “What’s a wrecking ball?” I explained it and he still looked puzzled. I pulled it up on YouTube and he stared wide-eyed totally soaking it up as a building crumbled.

    Ever since the summer Olympics (when he was 2), I’ve been calling him Usain Bolt. He finally asked why — and so we went back and watched Usain Bolt smash everything we know about human physical potential.

    June 1st, 2010 at 10:06 pm