Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Afterschool Stakeholders Can Learn From Steve Jobs

By Sam Piha

After Steve Jobs announced his resignation from Apple, a number of people sent around the text of his 2005 Commencement Speech to graduates of Stanford University. We found his words inspiring. You can read a copy of the text of his speech and view a video of his presentation.

Jobs explained that after dropping out of college, what inspired him was a calligraphy class. “It [calligraphy] 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, it's likely that no personal computer would have them.”

In response to Jobs’ speech, Patrick Ledesma posted these questions on his “Leading from the Classroom” blog. We believe that these questions are valuable to anyone promoting young people’s learning.

“So when you plan for what your students will learn this year, ask:

1. What opportunities will my students have to be exposed to the arts and music?
2. What opportunities will my students have to explore areas of interests that may someday inspire and give them purpose?
3. What opportunities will my students have to apply their skills and interests to create something that demonstrates ‘what they love to do?’

If your students will have these opportunities this year, your students are on the track to finding what may someday be their ‘great work.’ If your students do not have these opportunities, it's time to start analyzing when these opportunities can be made available, if not during class, then perhaps through other venues such as clubs or after school programs.”

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