The Next “You”

Here is something I hear often;

“Are we creating a system of education where a student will come out and become the next Steve Jobs?”

Let’s unpack that.

Steve Jobs, a fantastic entrepreneur, businessperson, intelligent mind, and innovator.  But there is only one Steve Jobs, and I dare say that there will never be another “Steve Jobs.”  Even if it is of the highest of goals that we say this, replacing one pre-determined path, with a different one (although it may be a higher bar), is not a good idea.  What I think is important is that we create a system that helps our students find their path, their direction, and make their impact, not ours.

In Katie Martin’s book “Learner-Centred Innovation”, she focuses on our students (and her daughter) asking their own questions and finding their own path to purpose:

Some days my daughter wants to be a scientist; other days she wants to be a chef. I have no idea what she will end up doing, but I know that she loves to mix and remix and create new things—at least for now. What will we miss out on if her what if questions subside and she begins to settle for what is? What if her concoctions could someday cure cancer? What if she could open a restaurant where she could happily cook and care for people? What if she stops seeing the value of her creativity and questions and settles for a path that fails to inspire her to lead a fulfilling and successful life as she defines it? Like other children her age, she is developing her self-concept as she interacts with people and ponders her surroundings. She is learning to find her place in this world. The reality of our current system is that grades and academic achievement will increasingly play a role in how she perceives her abilities and trajectory in life. I wonder if she will continue to love learning and exploration as much as she does now if her experience in school is focused on compliance rather than developing skills and knowledge that she can use to be more creative and innovative. I’m pretty sure the answer is no.

Greatness (whatever that means to the individual) often starts by asking questions first and finding solutions second.  Curiosity is crucial to our students, and they should leave school more curious than when they started.

Maybe we need to stop saying that we want to find the next “Steve Jobs”, and start telling our students we need the next “you” and that if they continue asking questions, they will be able to leave their fingerprints on the world. The fingerprints they determine, not ones that are established for them.

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