We need more crazy kids…

I am not an Apple fanatic.  I can’t be, I don’t have enough money.  I can’t afford an maciPhonepadpodbook anything.  I did own one once 21 years ago.  My first computer was a Mac Classic that I bought for $1100…and that was with the educators discount.   It changed my life as it did for many other people.  I was able to cruise the net at hyper speed.  Vroooommm vroooom… Remember when fast was a web page that took four minutes to load?

I have never thrown out that old Mac…it has survived many moves and currently sits in my attic.

While I have not be a Mac user over the years, I have still followed with great interest the release of their new products, and the stories of their leader Steve Jobs.  I have always been interested in how he “Thinks Different.”  I have watched him present, and even started wearing jeans to school.  If it was ok for Steve Jobs to run Apple in jeans, then I could teach 25 kids dressed in jeans.  His style of presenting always amazed me, and I would watch videos of him with the volume off to learn his tricks…go ahead, try it.

His quotes were inspiring:

“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.”

This year I am lucky enough to have enough laptops for each of my kids in class.  I am realizing that the power in being a 1:1 class is not what they can create, or share.  It is not that they can all blog or get on the internet at the same time or anytime.  It is that being a 1:1 classroom allows each kid to be different.  No longer does learning have to follow rules.  No longer do we have to stay together as a class, or have everyone learning about the same thing, or creating the same products.  That was the subliminal message that Jobs preached, he gave us permission to be different.

I am still adjusting to harnessing the power of the laptops.  I go home many days knowing that the kids only used them as really expensive notebooks.  What I am excited about is to use the laptops to create something new, a new learning experience…haven’t figured out what that means yet.  I know I can do what everyone else is doing, or do what everyone wants us to do, or follow the kids ideas, but as Steve Jobs said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”  I know I have to do what my school district wants, which is already out of date, but also add to it a component that does not yet exist. I want to figure out how to use them to do the next great thing that hasn’t been figured out yet.  Henry Ford supposedly said,”"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” I want to make sure that by the end of the year I am not just doing what I did last year better, but doing something that no one realized could be done.  I want to figure out how to shatter the current educational process.

One of the things I struggle with is the students total lack of computer skills.  These are not digital natives.  The Myspace generation were digital natives, the Facebook Generation are digital illiterates.  When Myspace was popular the site was harder to use and kids could manipulate it, mess around with it, embed things and alter code…Facebook is too easy.  It seems I have spent 50% of my time just getting them to understand simple basic skills and learn how to navigate simple sites.  It takes me longer to get the kids “blogging” now than it did four years ago.  Not only are they more digitally illiterate, there is more fear.  They are afraid to click anything, it is as though they fear making their computer do something they told it to do.  Kids years ago had no fear, there was more fun, they were more willing to take a risk and “break” something.

We have talked about it a bunch this year–the fear that they have brought into class.  I asked a question last week…”What are you learning?”  Some kids handed in blank papers.  Said they did not understand the question…but really they were afraid of being wrong.  They would rather get a “zero” than be wrong.  They wanted a cut and paste answer that would match their classmates.  Having a different answer was scary, being different was being wrong.  I hope that I can harness the power of being a 1:1 room and shake them up, get them to act a bit crazy, be misfits, trouble makers, see things differently, be different…  I hope that I can harness the power of being a 1:1 room and get them to believe that they are already different but have just been homogenized and made to forget that they were born a bit crazy.   I know I should be using a more professional word, but I want them to act a bit crazy.  It is through their craziness that they will discover their genius.  We need more crazy kids, because it is only the crazy ones that will grow up thinking that they can change the world.

 

 

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

- Apple Inc.

One Comment

on “We need more crazy kids…
One Comment on “We need more crazy kids…
  1. I’ve been pondering the idea of studying 1-1 schools and digital literacy. Does having a 1-1 program improve the likelihood students will have better digital skills? Intuitively you would think so, but I doubt it in many cases. Also, do schools with these programs have teachers with superior digital literacy? Again, I doubt it.

    Paul, what skills do you think define digital literacy? Do you really think the MySpace generation was more literate than the Facebook generation? I’ve noticed over the years that each class is different, and abilities can vary wildly from year to year.

    What you suggest makes sense as Web 2.0 makes things so easy, “even a caveman can do it,” but the tendency to strive for the “right” answer is deeply ingrained in many students. I see that all the time. Something in their educational experience tells them that taking risks doesn’t pay off well for them when they do it, so they’d rather take a passive, safer role.

    For me, to not try is to fail. To try and fall short is not failing at all. We have to create an environment where it’s ok to try and fall short of the mark. Unfortunately school is one place where everyone involved is under tremendous pressure not to fail. That’s why the play it safe approach is so common.

    Give them a safe place to try, and keep trying. They’ll come along. You’re a great teacher so I’m sure even the most timid students blossom in your classroom.

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