Nov 1, 2011

A Very Curious Child

I'm about halfway through Walter Isaacson's very long Steve Jobs biography and I am riveted. 

Although this is Jobs' officially-sanctioned biography, it isn't completely flattering. Apple's founder was a 21st century visionary unlike any other, but he was also a strange, petulant control freak. History can be juicy reading indeed. 

It's fascinating to see how pot-smoking LSD-taking visionaries have shaped how we use electronics and computers today. Aside from the biggest eccentric Jobs himself, you'll meet the Atari CEO, a mentor to Jobs, who would hold meetings in his hot tub while smoking dope. Or that Apple engineer who absent-mindedly drove his car into a truck nearly killing himself trying to figure out how to make those overlapping windows that are standard in any Mac today. 

So far, one of the things that stands out for me is how Jobs way of thinking was so out of synch with the traditional education system. Of his first years in school he said, "I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came really close to beating any curiosity out of me." According to Jobs, both his parents "knew the school was at fault for trying to make me memorize stupid stuff rather than stimulating me."

His father had a passion for restoring old cars and re-selling them for a little profit. He'd often let his son tag along looking and bargaining for parts.  Meantime, the young Steve showed an early fascination with electronics indulged by Heathkits—those do-it-yourself kits that would let you build radios or oscilloscopes. Jobs said, "I was very lucky, because when I was a kid both my dad and the Heathkits made me believe I could build anything." Ah really, there is nothing like experiential learning especially for visual learners like Steve Jobs. Or Einstein. Or Oppenheimer, whose mind was allowed to wander and flourish in a progressive school. 

And what a testament to child-centered education when one of the greatest minds of the 21st century considers one of his grade school teachers as his most significant. "I learned more from her than any other teacher, and if it hadn't been for her I would have gone to jail." 

So if you love your iPod, Macbook, iPhone and iPad you should also be grateful to Ms. Imogen "Teddy" Hill. She was Steve Job's 4th grade teacher. 

Anyway, back to reading the book! 


Nana said...

Nona! I'm reading this too right now!

Cely said...

Hmmm... Another book to add to the "to-read" pile! Thank you!

Nona said...

Cely, too many books to little time syndrome! I would love to go on one of those book retreats one day...

Nana, riveted yourself, I'm guessing. Thanks to Packy for getting our copies so quickly! Ma abilidad! : )

Mieke Zamora-Mackay said...

Ang galing talaga ni Packy! Send my love!

I can't wait to read this too. I am just so happy that teaching methods have evolved (to an extent) where the child has more options to learn, how they learn best.

Nona said...

Hi Mieke. Love sent!

Grateful for some evolution, but still a long way to go. As Bono (a good friend of Jobs) said in the bio, he thinks only open, non-hierarchical societies can nurture innovators like Jobs. China or India can churn out wiz kids who can out-calculate you. Good technicians, number crunchers and corporate suits. But the imagination and intuitive thinking that builds businesses and industries will come from people who were progressively educated.