Dear Steve Jobs: Please Reform Our Education System
Dear Steve Jobs,
I need to tell you that I’m a huge fan of your work. Yes, I love my iPhone, Macbook Pro and iMac, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. The work of yours that I wish to talk about is your work at Apple Inc. as a leader. In the last 13 years you have helped apple focus, you have turned the company around from nearly bankrupt, and now to the largest corporation in North America. So why do we need you for our educational system?
You may have heard, right now the education system isn’t doing so well. If it were a corporation its assets would surely be up for sale. The reason? Far too many initiatives, far too many people pulling in different directions. To put it simply, we lack focus, we lack leadership. There are hundreds of great ideas coming from thousands of educators but we are spreading ourselves too thin. We preach assessment practices, technology, constructivism, 21st century learning. We argue about the need for grades, standardized tests, and curriculum. We have ‘regular’ programs, AP programs and IB programs. We have private schools, charter schools and public schools all fighting for the best students but we’re simply ‘stealing’ them from each other. We need your help.
Thirteen years ago, when you returned to Apple, you canned some great ideas. You got rid of the Newton (the worlds first personal digital assistant), and traded in an old operating system for a future-ready one. But these great ideas didn’t die, they just weren’t ready yet. Today, the concepts from the newton live on in much more refined and useable forms such as the iPhone and iPad. Apple offers only a few products, and they work well. This is what we need to do in education; offer few choices, but the few that are there are great.
We need to rebuild from the bottom up. We need to trade in an old system for a new one. We need to take all of the great ideas and have a think-tank of innovators put them together, into functional and seamless products. We need to learn to focus on a few initiatives, and do them well. Steve, you did this for a sinking corporation, turning it into the most successful in the world. Please do the same for our education system.