Elementary Schools in Early America
What propelled the great outbreak of major inventions in early America—breakthroughs such as the fridge, the telegraph, the steamboat or the weaving machine?
Speaking of their shaping factors, I take pride in believing that those inventions are mainly ascribed to three premises: excellent elementary schools in this country; a native labor force that welcomes the new technology; the tentative system of giving premiums to inventors.
Why mention the elementary schools? The reason is that, thanks to these schools, our early mechanics got the chance to receive basic education and be good at arithmetic and some knowledge of geometry and equation.
It's a coincidence that a diplomat (ambassador) of Commonwealth also believes that this educational advantage is profitable to American inventiveness.
A further stimulus to invention came from the "premium" system, which preceded the patent system and for years ran parallel with it. This assistant system, originated abroad, conferred medals and sufficient subsidy and other incentives on the inventors.
In the United States, multitudes of premiums for new devices were awarded at country expositions in major cities. Given this incentive scheme, American workers took readily to that special kind of nonverbal thinking necessitated in mechanical technology. This nonverbal thinking is a visual process which transcends verbal descriptions and thus cannot be generalized by unambiguous verbal descriptions.
This special thinking can be just as creative as painting and writing, which of the essence for the designer and the inventor. With this thinking, the designer and the inventor are able to contrive (formulate) a locomotive accessory or analyze the configuration of an apparatus in their minds.
They should sit down in the midst of levers, wedges, hinges, gears, etc. with clamping fixture, wrench gauge and other tools, like a poet immersed in the letters of the alphabet, considering a gracious verse.