Alexandria Changed The World, We Could Imitate Their Initiations

In 300 BCE, Ptolemaic kings who ruled Alexandria had an inspired idea that changed the world.

They lured leading scholars, scientists and poets to their city by offering them life appointments at the Museum, with handsome salaries, tax exemptions, free food and lodging, and the almost limitless resources of the library.

"The recipients of this largesse established remarkably high intellectual standards. Euclid developed his geometry in Alexandria. Archimedes produced a remarkably precise estimate of the value of pi and laid the foundation for calculus..."

That the world was round was found to be true. They deduced that the length of a year was 365 1/4 days and proposed adding a "leap day" every fourth year; and that one could sail from Spain westward to reach India.

The level of achievement was staggering. They did not have to partition their days by the hour or make reports or fill out forms. Consider what could be done with the United States if we copied some of their methods.

Ptolemy Philadelphus undertook commissioning 70 scholars to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek. For early Christians that became the Old Testament.

What strikes me most about the projects was that they weren't pigeon-holed in any way. If we were to scout students based on their expertise funneled by a fundamental knowledge of a subject and supply them with needs (housing, freedom of time, meals, prize money, beyond a basic salary), they could seclude themselves to learn more.

Maybe the costs of college are excessive because of the high salaries paid to faculty members. If the governing unit were to furnish basic needs plus incentives to produce a coup or two, we'd have an outstanding faculty as well as students who wanted to make a name for themselves.

It's just a thought that ought to awaken some of the solons who sip from slo-mo potions.