January 28, 2004
Christopher Columbus – learning the job by doing it and by reading in his spare time

I'm very fond of these short biographies that they do nowadays. If you can have short stories, why not short summaries of great lives? But for Brian's Education Blog purposes such books can be tantalisingly insufficient. That Lenin book I quoted from yesterday is a foot crusher if dropped, or it would have been when it first came out in hardback. Which is why it went into such fascinating detail about the nuances of the man's education. Christopher Columbus by Peter Rivière, on the other hand, one of the Pocket Biographies series done by Sutton Publishing, is only 111 pages long.

So this is all it says (in paragraph one of Chapter One, "The Early Years", on page 8) about the education of its hero:

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 'about 1451. His father, Domenico, was a weaver, and his mother, Susanna Fontanarossa, also came from a weaving family. We know of a sister, Bianchinetta, and two younger brothers, Bartolome and Diego, who were to be his companions and supporters throughout Us life. He received little in the way of formal education and the claim that he attended the University of Pavia, where he is meant to have studied geography, astronomy and geometry, is almost certainly not true. If later in life he was recognized for his knowledge of these subjects it was because he was self-taught. As a young bov he was engaged in his father's business, although at an earlv age he started going to sea. This was not altogether surprising since, along with Venice, Genoa was the great trading city of the Mediterranean.

And with that Columbus immediately sets to and discovers America, or whatever it was he actually did to it (see Introduction).

Still, for those who prefer short postings …

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:59 PM
Category: Famous educationsLearning by doing