Lessons from Apple’s Visionary

Part of an old play list of some favorites from the 2008-09 school year.

There are three tech tools I acquired when I was in the classroom that changed the way I taught.  The first is a document camera, which allowed me to write “live” in front of my students.  The second item is an LCD projector because longtime readers of this blog might remember that a 26” television set was not the most feasible way of displaying what I was writing under the document camera.  The third piece of technology that transformed my teaching was an iTouch.  The iTouch allowed me to infuse music into my classroom in a way that my CD player never allowed me to do.  With the help of a small speaker, I was able to use music during transition times, play games with music during Morning Meeting, and even host occasional Friday afternoon dance parties during Closing Circle.  The ability to create playlists helped me play the exact songs I wanted when I wanted.  There were no CDs to change, which meant I was using time more efficiently.  I have so many fond memories, connected to the music that came out of my iTouch, of my last two years in the classroom.  I cannot imagine entering a classroom again without it.

Last night my Facebook News Feed was abuzz with “rest in peace” messages about Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.  Here are some of the things my Facebook Friends were saying about Jobs (unedited and unattributed to protect others’ privacy):

·         Steve Jobs- you made such a tremendous impact on society and your battle with cancer, while tragic, has shed even more light on an issue we need to address in society. I will use my iPhone with pride. May you rest in peace and condolences to your family. As a tech geek you will be sorely missed.
·         You made my life more fun, Mr. Jobs.  I am grateful.
·         So sad to hear that Steve Jobs has died. The man was a genius.
·         Insanely sad today. The world’s average IQ dropped a whole mess of points with Steve Jobs’ death. He was the Thomas Edison of our era, shedding light where we didn’t even know there was darkness.
·         Steve Jobs…you were a true visionary and a modern day hero.
·         sad passing. he really did change the world. a life well spent.
·         Steve Jobs, thank you for dreaming the dreams that we didn’t know could be possible and in making them come true, forever changing our world.

I learned, from reading his obituary in The New York Times that:

Mr. Jobs was neither a hardware engineer nor a software programmer, nor did he think of himself as a manager. He considered himself a technology leader, choosing the best people possible, encouraging and prodding them, and making the final call on product design.

It was an executive style that had evolved. In his early years at Apple, his meddling in tiny details maddened colleagues, and his criticism could be caustic and even humiliating. But he grew to elicit extraordinary loyalty.

Steve Jobs transformed computers from technological machines into something that everyday people could benefit from and use.  The Apple IIe was the first computer I used in school.  I risk dating myself by admitting to learning how to use Logo Writer in fourth grade.  I remember spending rainy recess days playing the original Oregon Trail Game with friends on our classroom’s MacIntosh computer.  Years later, Jobs branched out and created sleek machines like the iPhone, the iTouch, and the iPad.  We all know what a phenomenon those three have become.  The man was a true genius and visionary.

A friend posted a link to the commencement address Jobs delivered at Stanford University in 2005.  There are two wonderful pieces of advice that bear repeating in this forum, which you might want to share with your students (since they most likely own or have touched something from Apple).  The excerpts from the commencement address that resonated with my friend, as well as with me, were:

  • Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
  • Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.