Over three decades after their famous flight, a journalist asked Orville and Wilbur how they did it. How did two brothers with “no money, no influence, and no other special advantages” do what specialists with all those things couldn’t do?
“It isn’t true,” Orville corrected, “to say we had no special advantages. We did have unusual advantages in childhood, without which I doubt we could have accomplished much.” What was their unusual advantage?
Their father, as we talked about before, had a job that required him to travel widely. On the road, he always looked for cool toys, toys that taught them things, introduced them to new worlds, beginning, it so happens, with a toy helicopter. “The greatest thing in our favor,” Orville explained, “was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity. If my father had not been the kind who encouraged his children to pursue intellectual interests without any thought of profit, our early curiosity about flying would have been nipped too early to bear fruit.”
Longtime Daily Dad readers will say, we’ve heard this story before. It’s the story of Zeno’s father bringing home the works of Socrates. It’s the story of Jennifer Doudna’s father dropping off a copy of a science book he thought his daughter would be interested in. It’s the story of John Adams Sr. helping his boy find his lane, his interests, his curiosities. It’s the story of Albert Einstein’s father giving him a compass as a present when he was five years old.
We have to do this. We have to cultivate their curiosities, whatever they may be. We have to encourage their interests, without any thought of whether or not they might be able to profit from it.
We can give them this unusual advantage.