|"I really believe in equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to me |
more than anything means a great education." - Steve Jobs
During his much-discussed hiatus from Apple in the 1990s, as his kids began to grow older and his interactions with the education system became more substantive, Jobs—during a 1996 interview with Wired Magazine, then in its early years—was asked whether he thought technology could help improve American education. His answer might surprise you (emphasis ours):
I used to think that technology could help education. I've probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I've had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What's wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.
It's a political problem. The problems are sociopolitical. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they're inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy. I'm one of these people who believes the best thing we could ever do is go to the full voucher system.
I have a 17-year-old daughter who went to a private school for a few years before high school. This private school is the best school I've seen min my life. It was judged one of the 100 best schools in America. It was phenomenal...If we gave vouchers to parents for $4,400 a year, schools would be starting right and left. People would get out of college and say, "Let's start a school..."
...They'd do it because they'd be able to set the curriculum...God, how exciting that could be! But you can't do that today. You'd be crazy to work in a school today. You don't get to do what you want. You don't get to pick your books, your curriculum. You get to teach one narrow specialization. Who would ever want to do that?
These are solutions to our problems in education. Unfortunately, technology isn't it...Lincoln did not have a Web site at the log cabin where his parents home-schooled him, and he turned out pretty interesting. Historical precedent shows that we can turn out amazing human beings without technology. Precedent also shows that we can turn out very uninteresting human beings with technology.
...I really believe in equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to me more than anything means a great education. Maybe even more important than a great family life, but I don't know how to do that. But it pains me because we do know how to provide a great education. We really do. We could make sure that every young child in this country got a great education. We fall far short of that...
But his broad genius was evident long before he became the Edison of a new generation. And although he's no longer around to share his insights with the world, we should let his words, ideas, and inventions inspire us all to...