Wit & Wisdom

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Steve Jobs: Why don't schools get rid of the crappy stuff?

CJ Westerberg, October 5, 2011 8:05 PM


"Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."
-Steve Jobs

by C.J. Westerberg

Here are eleven things that constitute the "crappy stuff" to get rid of in schools:

1)  Having a class on good nutrition, and then serving up crap in the cafeteria. 

2)  Talking about the importance of Math, and then serving up crappy curriculum, like the      "fuzzy" stuff.

3)  Not dealing with bullying effectively, yet punishing students  for too man absences (the two could not be related, right?).

4)   Having an awards ceremony where one or two students get 90% of the awards, usually about "subjects" and grades.  Really, why bother?   And, this is supposed to motivate the other students?
5)   Blaming the parents for not promoting the importance of education, while the school culture  "celebrates" the football/basketball players (just like the chess, robotics, or theatre "teams" right?  Or, even the less glam sport teams, like tennis or track), creating the real
 hierarchical "honor society."

6)    Having to endure shrill bells after every "period", like rats in a cage, which is a pretty          
crappy existence, even for a rat, especially without exercise.

7)   Blaming the students for being dumb or lazy.

8)  Not using technology because it is new and threatening, or using technology because one "should", and not because it serves the learning, which it should do.    

9)   Being lucky enough to have Music class, and a having a teacher who actually makes it painful, which is beyond crappy. (How does one do this?)      

10)  Legislating what a teacher has to cover day by day, not allowing more time when the class is on roll about a topic and wants to spend more time on it. Hey, the Founding Fathers and 1776 gets some class time, but forget about more time talking about Ben F. (beyond the lightning and key thing), because we've got to get to that crappy minor battle somewhere, because it may be tested and is on the "what needs to be covered" sheet. And then we wonder why we have kids who can't remember anything about the American Revolution?

11) Complaining about a parent who is "too involved," or, who questions too much.  Then, complaining about a parent who "never volunteers," or who is generally not "involved enough." Seems as if the Goldilocks version of the "just right" parent runs hot or cold, depending on the situation. . . .

There are probably too many crappy things to mention, especially in the policy arena, and we took liberties here, especially since what Jobs was really talking about was . . .  editing.    

Here is what Steve Jobs really said:

"Do you have any advice?"  Parker asked Jobs.  "Well, just one thing," said Jobs. "Nike makes some of the best products in the world.  Products that you lust after.  But you also make a lot of crap.  Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."  Parker said Jobs paused and Parker filled the quiet with a chuckle.  But Jobs didn't laugh.  He was serious. "He was absolutely right," said Parker.  "We had to edit."

Parker used the word "edit" not in a design sense but in the context of making business decisions.  Editing also leads to great product designs and effective communications. According to Steve Jobs, "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on.  But that's not what it means at all.  It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. . . .

I know, I know, school is not a business, but that doesn't mean we can't get out of our silos.
Full article here

Originally Published The Daily Riff MAY 2011

Related posts The Daily Riff:

Steve Jobs:  Liberal Arts Essential for Innovation

The 3 Myths About Competition in the Classroom

How to Learn


  • Just my luck. Immediately after I got myself another year on my SSL certificate, I read that Google may be entering the wildcard SSL certificate business (and offering free certificates.)

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