THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A RENEGADE AUTO-DIDACT My most powerful learning experience occurred on my first day of kindergarten. It devastated me emotionally, which is probably why I’ve never forgotten it, and why it remains a lesson I value to this day. In 1968, what many schools did for new kindergarteners was test them. There I was, missing my blanky, and they wanted mental gymnastics on command. Fine. I figured I was going to cry at some point anyway. While our teacher bustled about keeping her new charges in check, each of us was asked, one at a time, to go to the back of the room and talk to a lady with a clipboard. Her job was to see how high we could count. When I was called back, the lady asked me to begin counting. Before beginning, I asked, ‘Would you like me to count by 1s, 2s, 5s, or 10s?’ She rolled her eyes, and replied as though I had pissed her off, ‘Just go back to your seat.’ I was shattered. All the other kids got to count and be praised for it. Why not me? I must have done something terribly wrong. I thought the clipboard lady would