Posted by: crudbasher | October 14, 2011

Can The School System Make The Next Steve Jobs?

With all the talk about remembering Steve Jobs the last week, there has been quite a few tribute articles written. I have been reading a special Bloomburg Businessweek issue devoted to him. A few passages really struck me and I would like to share them with you.

“Young Steve wasn’t easy. He stuck a bobby pin into a wall outlet and had to be taken to a hospital after tasting ant poison. When he was old enough to go to school, his teachers – the ones who bored him, anyway – found him obnoxious and disruptive, when he wasn’t inattentive. In the classroom, he’s set off little bombs and let loose snakes. ‘I was pretty bored in school,’ he told Playboy in 1985, ‘and I turned into a little terror.'”

Steve Jobs

So what would happen to him today? I would bet he would be given Ritalin and told to sit down and learn. You can see though that he was trying to learn as much as he could but he wanted to learn about things that interested him. Can you imagine instead if he was in a school like the School of One where each child can progress at their own pace? Or what if he was allowed to learn about whatever he wanted to? At this point the obvious question is, if he didn’t learn in school, where did he learn? The answer is awesome.

“…the garage of Paul Jobs [his father] […] kept a spotless workbench and cleared a space for Steve to tinker. ‘It really was the most wonderful place to grow up,’ Jobs told a Smithsonian Institution historian in 1995. […] ‘The best people in computers would have normally been poets and writers and musicians… They went into computers because it was so compelling. It was fresh and new. It was a new medium of expression for their creative talents.”

He learned in a nurturing atmosphere with his father. He was given freedom to explore his own creativity at the critical time in his development. This new century is marked by the transition from the Industrial Revolution to the Knowledge age. Working to manufacture products requires a different skill set from creating the products. Can you imagine Steve Jobs as an assembly line worker? Me neither.

The big problem with the Education system in the US isn’t that it’s broken. It works just fine. It mass produces factory workers. The problem is we don’t need them as much anymore, we need more people like Steve Jobs.

And now, as Steve Jobs would say “Just One More Thing“.

This passage in the magazine is very revealing.

“Jobs recognized that an industry dominated by Microsoft and Intel would not adapt smoothly in the era of personal media and communication devices. […] Jobs bet they could not innovate rapidly or radically enough, since their profits relied on the preservation of and old regime. He also understood that in the fluid and rapidly evolving technology business – where new technologies are constantly disrupting the established winners – there was a chance to reshuffle the deck in his favor.” (emphasis mine)

Steve Jobs was a creative disruptive innovator. It’s people like that who will transform our world, including the way we learn.

If you are big and successful it might be hard to imagine it being any other way, but beware – each day is a new day. Nothing is certain now.



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