This past week I finally got around to reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson while laying out on the beach with my family. While my wife and her family were reading the summer’s hot literary trends or a slew of James Patterson bests (like normal vacationers), I was reading to figure out what made Steve Jobs magnificently unique. After reading the book, I realized that Jobs was a true visionary and an artist not just a tech geek. He contributed more to my technological lifestyle than just about any other company in the industry. I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a little interest in Apple, Pixar, or just plain simple inspiration.
While I quickly realized that I lack every kernel of Jobs’ visionary artistry, I do relate to his temperamental passion. The same drive to revolutionize the digital industry is the same drive many teachers feel about their students. Many times throughout the book, Jobs literally blows his top and berates anyone who challenges him, stands in his way, or is just being – in his opinion – an ignorant $h** (his words not mine). While I’m not the kind of guy who blows up on people, I understand where Jobs is coming from within the framework of my own personal passions for educational leadership, classroom instruction, and educational policy. It is frustrating for me to watch educators and educational leaders make snap judgements or decisions without putting in the artistic time and talent to make better and more informed decisions that Jobs so desperately pushed all of his employees to do. Education is fragile just as Jobs recognized that digital consumers’ desires were as well. Both industries require decisions to be made on behalf of the end user not the company or it breaks and “becomes a piece of junk.” Plain and simple, Jobs cared more about Apple’s end-user experience and less about their bottom line.
Simply put, Jobs is so determined to do what he believes is best for his company’s products that his emotions get the better of him sometimes when he is confronted with ideas that he believes will be detrimental to the end user. By no means, as an educator do I now intend to go off on people who challenge me (and not the good kind of challenge either) professionally, but I can definitely sympathize with Jobs’ fire and wish there were more people with his drive in my chosen profession. We need more people in leadership roles who care about the end-user…the student.
Nowadays, there seem to be more people arguing about the right way to do “stuff” and less people blazing trails and meeting the needs of students. In my humblest opinion, schools could use someone like Steve Jobs because even in a world of many self-proclaimed trailblazers, students and teachers could use a few more Steve Jobs who are blazing paths for students and not for themselves.