Some of the texts that are important for understanding the challenges of globalization
Stanford Report, June 14, 2005
'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says
This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
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.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.
More Technology in the Classroom
ResolveToHeal.com for the Workshop
What can teachers do to reach multiple learning styles?
Learning Styles MathForArtists.com
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Dennis Littky and The Big Picture schools
Interview with Margot Adler.
All Things Considered, April 25, 2005 · It's hard to imagine a school with no tests, no grades and no classes. But those familiar elements of education are missing at two dozen Big Picture schools in six states, each with no more than 120 students.
They emphasize work in the real world, portfolios, oral presentations and intense relationships between students and advisers. Margot Adler visits one of the schools, called The Met, the 10-year-old model for the schools, in Providence, R.I.
Students are encouraged to discover their passions, interning two days a week with mentors in the community who relate those passions to the real world. The student might work at a hospital, a bakery, or an architectural firm. School projects are designed by the mentor, the adviser and the student together -- and are presented orally, along with a portfolio, every nine weeks.
Vimar Rodriguez, an 11th grader interested in medicine, has a neighborhood pediatrician as a mentor. Dr. Hector Cordero says she knew little when she started interning at his office.
"I think she's learning a lot," Cordero says. "I think it is motivating her to go to medical school, which is the most important thing."
Rodriguez contrasts her own life with those of her friends at other schools. "They don't know [what college they are going to], if they are going to get financial aid, and here I can look at different opportunities and different choices."
The school measures its success in many ways -- standardized achievement scores are higher than those at the three largest Providence high schools -- but parents are most excited by these statistics: Almost every senior gets into college, 80 percent go to college, and five years later, most of those students are still in college or have graduated.
The core idea of a school is so embedded in everyone. I had a kid say to me "You're not a real principal." (Charlie Plant, one of six principals)
Comments by Dennis Littky, founder of the Met School
Students have a hard time adjusting to a school that they don't know.
You put 15 students in a room with an advisor, you let kids discover and follow their passions, interning two days a week with mentors in the community who relate those passions to the real world. The students might work in a hospital or an architectural firm. School projects are designed by the student and advisor together and are presented orally in a portfolio every nine weeks.
Students meet three days a week with advisors about their projects. Projects are tailored to get academic rigor into the presentation. "We're looking at how do you look at the world scientifically, how do you look at the world mathematically, do you communicate effectively, what are the skills we can get out of this?"
"Students have been told what to do for nine years. When they enter ninth grade, it's rough. We are saying, Follow your interests and passions, make choices. They are not ready, they don't trust adults."
Admisison is by lottery and most students qualify for free lunch. Student scores are higher than the average scores of the three local high school but even so, fewer than half are proficient. Almost every senior gets into college, 80 percent go to college and five years later, almost all are still in college or graduated.
Students are followed for ten years. They are welcome to drop in, get some advice, the advisors are there for you. Advisors send letters and care packages to graduates in college.
The drop out rate at the Met is 3 percent. There are kids that want a big school where they can be anonymous. It's not perfect.
We separate kids from adults in our world. So of course there is this generation gap.
It's a struggle to get trained teachers.
Web Extra Audio
Dennis Littky is co-founder of the Big Picture schools and is director of one of them, The Met Center in Providence, R.I. Hear Littky on:
The challenges of creating a school like The Met and in creating rigor in the student's projects.
There is no harder job than a new 9th grade advisor. I haven't figured out how to help them have a successful year. You get 9th grade kids who are angry at school, don't trust adults, and have been told what to do for 9 years and we are saying, follow your interests and make choices. They are not ready. We continue to struggle about how to get them involved, give them some structure but not too much structure. We are trying to make them learn to make decisions in life. What do we do in the first 9 weeks.
One of our solutions was have them come in for 2 weeks in the summer and start learning the culture. It's easier to do in the summer and there's less pressure for academics.
When teachers ask me how to prepare for the first 9 weeks in 9th grade, I tell them, Go bowling to get to know the kid, to get to know their passions. We struggle so much with it that I almost want them in their internships before they start school with us. Once they find their passion and interest and start to work in the internship, the rest takes over. they change. it's not school any more. "I love this doctor's office. I'm going to read about this. I love this Architect's office, I'm going to design this." So until you get the passion, it's too much like school.
The second big problem is how to get the rigor and get the rigor ... how do you find mathematics working in a radio station. how do you find the good projects? the reading and writing is easier, but how to go deep in the analytical reasoning is the challenge.
How do you do a transcript for colleges?
We give our kids narratives, we don't give our kids grades. These are two-page detailed reports about strengths and weaknesses, every 9 weeks for four years. Colleges can't look at that. We put the areas that the colleges want to see, English, History, Math. The transcript can say English and it has the kid's project in there.
Admissions officers can see that there are 4 English and 3 science credits and that's how we do it. Our job with narratives is to give kids feedback about how to get better. The job for the transcript is to help colleges know what's going on.
The question: How do you make the outside world understand what you do?
I believe deep down when you ask people, "What do you remember from chemistry class?" or trigonometry class, they don't have any answers. "Where did you learn to be a writer?" I ask them. "Did you learn it in journalism school, did you learn it from guidelines?" The answer: "No, I really learned when I was working and writing. People were being critical with my writing on the job."
In theory, I believe I can get most people to see that we learn when we're involved in something. There is no learning theory that says that lecturing to adolescents is the way to get people to learn. The way to get people to learn is to get them to be motivated and interested. The more you are involved in something, the more you construct knowledge, the more you learn, we know all that.
The problem is every human being went through a regular school, so we keep falling back on that model.
Critics laughed when they saw we had internships. Then they saw that we had the highest attendance rate in the state. We had the lowest drop-out rate in the state. But they really became believers when they see that every kid got accepted to college. Five years later they're still in college or graduated?
Sometimes you need to show those results so that people can accept the method. Every test that the other kids are taking, our kids are taking. We keep pushing ahead and trying to show that this is a way to help kids get educated.
We outscored the three largest high schools in mathematics and we don't teach a mathematics course. The kids learn to think like mathematicians, to solve problems and use their minds. The scores are not great, but they are moving up.
Colleges are impressed with how articulate and passionate our kids are.
Creating Big Picture schools around the U.S., and the difficulty of getting good teachers
If you have the right philosophy,
every child has a learning plan,
you find real work,
you find their passion,
We put a big emphasis about training the teachers for a year before putting them into schools. If you get the combinations together, it can be a success.
It's hard to find adults who are certified to be teachers, who are generalists and want to give up teaching their subject matter to really truly teach kids. As a teacher, you have nothing to protect yourself. There's no textbook to get in the way or to guide you, it's raw.
You have to have that relationship with that kid. It's very hard work to do.
Our schools vary in how good they are.
It's the hardest work in the world because you are dealing with kids' lives, you get so deep with them. Many teachers tell me, "I've taught for seven years, I’ve been a good teacher, but I've never got so close to kids as I have here." When you have 150 kids, you can't get that close.
By the way, critics say, "You just have 15 kids." Well, we get the same amount of money per student as the rest of the state gets. It's how you use your money.
The ratio in most high schools of adults to kids to around 1 to 15. The classes are 1 to 30 because you have department chairs, you have guidance counselors, there are people around. We do it with the same amount of money that California gives out, which is less than what Rhode Island gives out.
40 percent of our students are Latino, 30 percent are African American, 5 percent Asian. The free lunch population ranges from 60 to 80 percent, 70 percent of the kids have never had anyone in the family go to college. All of our kids are accepted in college about 80 percent go, 75 percent of our kids are still in college or graduated from some program. The national statistics are if you enter college as an African American or Latino, there is less than a 20 percent chance that you will graduate. One of the things we try to do is beat that. How do you get the kids to have such skills and passion that they overcome the barriers that the other 90 percent don't make it?
How kids in good schools are losing out too, and why
(The Met's accomplishments)
What makes me cry daily is when I hear a kid describe how he or she was before, and then how they found their passion and it changed their life.
It's really about the environment that we built to help the kid find his passion. That comes from having respect for the kid and giving the kid time to learn.
Half of our great work is because the kid got there when the kid grew up and got more mature. We were just patient. But in most cases, the kids never get to, they get stopped before they did something stupid or they weren't interested. By having the faith that the kid will learn and by struggling with that through the years, we can see how far they've come.
Our secret is that we have the patience and the belief that anything is possible. Whatever you need to help you get passionate about something is what we do. it's the true belief in the student.
Every school says that they respect kids. If you give kids work that is not important, you're not respecting them. I think my frustration with the world is that in many suburban districts where parents move to send their kids and the students come home with their As and Bs, the parents are satisfied, but they never look deeper, so they think those are good schools. They have the highest SAT scores, they have the most kids going to Ivy League colleges.
Those kids are losing too. They are not dropping out because they are playing the game. When you ask them, "Have you made any decisions in school? Do you care about anything, are you passionate about anything that goes on during the day besides drama club or football after school?" They're getting the short end. They aren't allowed to get engaged with their work and go deeper.
"My kid did well at that school." Yeah, but where could your kid really go if your kid got to work with a doctor in 9th grade, following her around, and really going in depth?
The other frustration is kids are dying daily. They are dropping out daily. In some cities, 20 percent graduate high school. Nothing is changed drastically enough.
I appreciate the accountability part of No Child Left Behind. There were some school districts that were not clear about standards and the law is helping them focus. The law is not going to help poor kids really achieve.
Taking tests is not going to help improve kids. We have to engage them, help them find their passion, we have to respect who they are and where they come from.
PORTFOLIOS (See Gardner's point about how to assess students from Intelligence Reframed)
If individuals indeed have different kinds of minds, with varied strengths, interests and strategies, then it is worth considering whether pivotal curricular materials like biology could be taught AND ASSESSED in a variety of ways.
Becoming a Multiple Intelligences School
Thomas R. Hoerr (Principal, St. Louis)
Keeping a portfolio for each child – a collection of work and artifacts that give a picture of the child’s growth – is a way of capturing progress without using paper and pencil measures. Unless the portfolio is given credence an shared with parents as a report card is, however, it will seen as just a grab gag with little educational significance. At New City the spring Portfolio Night highlights the role of the portfolio.
During Portfolio Night parents and children review student artifacts and refletions and put their hands on evidence of student growth. Families come together to celebrate student progress and accomplishments and to talk about areas needing more attention and effort. In short, reviewing portfolios gives parents an opportyunity to view their children’s progress in all of the intelligences.
All items in a portfolio should contain a reflection sheet. Completed by students, teachers or both, these forms indicate the particular intelligence an item addresses and why it was chosen for the portfolio. Without a reflection sheet, it is easy for objects to lose their significance over time. Photographs of three dimensional accomplishments as well as audiotapes and videotapes that capture a student’s progress should also be included in each portfolio.
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