“He had an imagination so excitable that it flirted with the edges of fantasy, which is also something we can try to preserve in ourselves and indulge in our children”
I am among those who got disappointed by the national school system and growing up, I came to understand two important things: if I wanted real education I would have to do it on my own and also, the fact that one never ceases to learn.
On my personal learning journey I came about Walter Isaacson’s biography of one of the greatest lifelong learners of all time: Leonardo Da Vinci and dare I say, this book is by far one of the most fascinating reads I’ve had.
What transcends through every single page is Leonardo’s love for learning and for self growth, his many interests (among them nature, mechanics, anatomy, physics, architecture, weaponry, entertainment) and above all, his passion and curiosity for life and the world.
Describing Da Vinci’s famous notebooks, Isaacson writes:
“His notebooks are the greatest record of curiosity ever created, a wondrous guide to the person whom the eminent art historian Kenneth Clark called “the most relentlessly curious man in history.”
My favorite gems in his notebooks are his to-do lists, which sparkle with his curiosity. One of them, dating from the 1490s in Milan, is that day’s list of things he wants to learn. “The measurement of Milan and its suburbs,” is the first entry. This has a practical purpose, as revealed by an item later in the list: “Draw Milan.” Others show him relentlessly seeking out people whose brains he could pick: “Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle. . . . Ask Giannino the Bombardier about how the tower of Ferrara is walled. . . . Ask Benedetto Protinari by what means they walk on ice in Flanders. . . . Get a master of hydraulics to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the Lombard manner. . . . Get the measurement of the sun promised me by Maestro Giovanni Francese, the Frenchman. He is insatiable.”