Steve Jobs died today and I have been reading the tributes and eulogies pouring in from the very devices that he created. I realized something as I read about him. He lived. He envisioned a future in which the form and function of technology could be so de-mystified that anyone could access mankind’s most promising tools. Steven Jobs created computers that fit in our back pockets and phones that can tell us our location or divine the stock market dive or provide real-time weather updates in Jakarta or Jersey City.
The most compelling tribute came in his own words– his speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 20o5:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
He lived 6 more years and saw the evolution of the IPad and smarter smart phones and lots of other stuff.
Maybe in our schools we should quit debating the wisdom of using the tools and toys that Steven Jobs created and just appreciate how influential they are in ours students’ lives. It is how they learn. It is how they communicate. And in fact, if it were not for Apple’s visionary instinct to link technology to public education way back in the early 1980’s, we would not have been nearly as successful in bridging the academic chasm that separates students along socio-economic lines.
History books will soon place Steve Jobs along side of the world’s greatest inventors: Edison and Franklin and Ford and Da Vinci. His genius made our jobs as educators easier- yet, somehow, more urgent.
“Stay hungry,” he said. “Stay foolish.” Then he left as if our next great genius is sitting in a classroom somewhere in America. And of course she is.