Reading John Naughton’s piece in The Observer today about how much of a mess the teaching of computing in schools is prompted me to think of the experiences of my thirteen year old daughter.
As you might have guessed both of my daughters have been used to having all sorts of Macs around the house and using them since they were old enough to walk to do all sorts of interesting things. Mollie, who at thirteen has to take ICT as an obligatory subject, is having her head done in by a curriculum that assumes that she will end up with some wage slave job using Powerpoint and Excel. Not only does the curriculum not include much of the geekier possibilities that John talks about in his article but it doesn’t even touch on the exciting creative and social possibilities of computing.
Mollie has achieved a level of sophistication in her use of computing that amazes even me. Having shown her Scrivener she has tapped into her love of reading and has now written about 30,000 words of her own, very impressive, novel. She has taken the narrative of her novel and cajoled the avatars in Sims 3 to act it out and then done screen movies of their “acting” which she edits, adds music to, and shares on YouTube. She has also recently scripted, shot, acted in, and edited a video of four short humorous skits as part of her Spanish course. She then finds and connects with other youngsters doing cool stuff with their computers on YouTube and ends up meeting up with them at Summer In The City and talking about all the amazing things they are creating.
Sure, computers are just a means to an end, but that end can be life enhancing. Steve Jobs said a computer should be a bicycle for the mind. Shame the school system seems determined to confine them to being little more than the modern equivalent of the typewriter. Wouldn’t it be better to inspire youngsters with their potential to change the world and giving them the tools to do so?
The original video featuring the “Brilliant Woman from Santa Cruz”. A montage of recent public comment at Santa Cruz City Council and the County Board of Supervisors. For more Santa Cruz Government humor check out our “SoWat Updates”, such as www.youtube.com
During my trip to Stockholm this week, I met with a 26 year old entrepreneur. Johan has just moved to Stockholm from his home in the South of Sweden and has a limited network. He is marketing a product to the Marketing Directors of major FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies and is being encouraged to build his network in order to get the connections he needs.
As we sat down to chat, Johan immediately told me his biggest challenge. “I am only 26, I don’t know many people. I understand the importance of being able to help other people before asking for their help, but I’m not sure I have much to give.”
This was a problem I heard many times during my time with BRE, and have written about before. As far as I am concerned, Johan has already overcome his major obstacle.
As long as you are willing and prepared to help other people in your network, then people will be happy to help you. They can tell who is genuinely interested in them, even if they are not in a position to help immediately, and who is ‘hunting’ for what they can take.
Experienced and well-connected business people networking with a 26 year old new to the City will not expect Johan to be in a position to help them at the moment but many will be more than happy to help him. It may be that they benefited from such advice and connections when they were younger. They may see future benefits from associating with someone who is likely to develop their business, they may just hope that he will do the same for another young entrepreneur in the future.
Having the right mindset is the most important thing, even if the opportunities to help are not there yet. Besides, show a real interest in other people and you may be surprised just how much you do have to give.
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