October 8, 2011

Why didn't Steve Jobs try to close The Gap?

The standard rich guy philanthropy these days is to try to close The Gap in school achievement. Bill Gates poured $2 billion into "small learning communities." A few weeks before The Social Network premiered, Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to the Newark public schools. 

But the sainted Steve Jobs didn't, at least as far as we know. Why not?

Most obviously, he apparently didn't like giving away money. 

More subtly, unlike Gates and Zuckerberg, he already had had lots of business experience with the K-12 market when he returned to Apple in 1996. The Apple II had been a huge seller to K-12 schools in the 1980s, but when Jobs returned to Apple, he ran as far away from that market as he could, targeting instead the Disposable Income demographic. 

I was reminded of that reading a New York Times article about how K-12 software is always advertised claiming that "studies show" how the product raises tests scores, but the studies usually don't actually say that. There's no bubble in educational software, no hot trends, no nothing. It's just a small time market driven by salesmanship and personal relationships (e.g., public school officials get jobs with software companies then sell to their former underlings). It's a very depressing Willy Loman-type business. 

The reason you always hear about software titans giving money to close The Gap is because they can't figure out how to do it themselves. 

I'm not convinced, however, that the current dearth of good K-12 software is permanent. But, it looks bad right now. If Closing The Gap wasn't such a priority, they might actually get something done. But race makes realism untenable in education, so wishful thinking thrives.

74 comments:

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Yes, but look at LEAPFROG educational toys - they are phenomenon unto themselves. Huge market share and brand loyalty.

I think they may be the exception that proves your rule

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Perhaps Jobs was really just more honest. His products were all kinds of cool among the Disposable Income set, so he never had to buy cool by publicly giving money away to uber-PC causes. That's one explanation.

Another: Gates and Zuckerberg both grew up in traditional families with their biological parents and siblings. Three of their four parents had graduate degrees. Had Gates's mother been born 20 years later she would have had one, too. One of Zuckerberg's sisters is an exec with Facebook. Both Zuckerberg and Gates attended exclusive private schools.

Jobs's parents also both have graduate degrees - his biological parents, that is. It's possible that neither of his adoptive parents had a college degree. His adoptive father is described as a machinist. Jobs had an adopted sister, Patti, who seems to have done nothing of note. His actual biological sister, with whom he was not raised, and who was raised by their biological parents, is a successful writer.

In short, if any computer titan would have been aware of the preeminence of nature over nurture, it would have been Steve Jobs. I, too, come from a family with similar complications, and I think it's one of the reasons I readily accept the fact that genetics places powerful limits on what we can achieve.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Addendum:

The Wikipedia entry on Jobs's biological sister, the writer Mona Simpson, whom Jobs first met in 1987 when he was 32, has this to say:

The interactions between Simpson and Jobs, and learning how similar they were, had a major effect on Jobs. Steve Lohr of the New York Times wrote "The effect of all this on Jobs seems to be a certain sense of calming fatalism — less urgency to control his immediate environment and a greater trust that life’s outcomes are, to a certain degree, wired in the genes." A few years earlier, Jobs was staunch on most of his character having been formed from his experiences, not his birth parents or genetics (Jobs frequently referred to his adoptive parents as "the only real parents" that he ever had).

Whether it explains his not trying to close "The Gap" I don't know, but having been raised in a family with half-siblings from the earlier marriages of both parents, as well as having adopted cousins from other races, one is inclined to spend a bit of time wondering, if so much of our environment was the same - parents AND neighborohoods AND friends AND schools - why we were all so different.

Anonymous said...

The Critical Thinking Company has good educational software. Of course, it won't fix stupid. It will save smart home schooled students a ton of time because they can go a lot faster than with the more time consuming traditional methods. Basically ed software can help able students master material and demonstrate mastery more quickly and efficiently. But that is only the case for kids on the right to far right side of the curve. It is great for stuff like grammar and editing skills that are tedious and focused but once you know them are a total waste of time to keep reviewing. A ton of time is wasted in schools teaching grammar, spelling and editing to students who already know it.

Saxon Math has tutorial software that works through every problem in the book. A student can grab the DVD, find the exact problem he needs and watch it worked out and explained.

So, I think there is some good stuff out there, but it is more likely to widen than narrow the gap because it helps the most focused and able the most.

Wes said...

Why are so many computer companies seemingly left wing? I am thinking of Apple, Google, Facebook, Mircosoft, etc. Was this always true of computer/software companies? Was IBM that way? Hewlett Packer?

I thought high levels of conscientiousness were usually associated with being more conservative. And back in days or yore, the superrich were more reactionary in their politics (for the most part). Yet all these hard working guys that put in 80 hour weeks and use ruthless logic to built products and outsmart their competition, embrace hippy culture and politics.

What gives?

Fred said...

"But the sainted Steve Jobs didn't, at least as far as we know. Why not?"

Because he was already sainted. Gates and Zuck don't have halos, so they've tried to buy love with philanthropy.

Fred said...

"Why are so many computer companies seemingly left wing? I am thinking of Apple, Google, Facebook, Mircosoft, etc."

Personal software and computers started with hippie-hobbyists in the 1970s. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak were pioneers who helped turn it into an industry.

"Was this always true of computer/software companies? Was IBM that way? Hewlett Packard?"

No. IBM and HP predate the personal computer/software hippies. IBM's roots go back more than 100 years.

Anonymous said...

There are math programs that are pretty effective--students get plenty of drill and practice at their mastery level. In 7th grade, Smart Sally may be getting formal logic problems while Dumb Debbie is learning fractions.

But that's not going to Close the Gap, that would move the whole curve to the right.

--Discordiax

LemmusLemmus said...

Wes: I don't have the cites at my fingertips, but if I remember correctly:

1. Most of the success of the companies you mention would not have been possible without high creativity.

2. Creativity is resonably well predicted by the combination of IQ and openness to experience.

3. Openness to experience is higher among lefties.

zoze said...

> I'm not convinced, however, that the current dearth of good K-12 software is permanent.

Yeah no kidding. There are many fewer technical limitations - friendlier input methods (touchscreens, Kinect), cheap cloud computing, game design expertise out the wazoo. We could use some attention and vision in that field.

Mitch said...

Actually, that doesn't strike me as correct. First off, computer rich guys aren't "standard rich guys". As a rule, they don't give much to charity.

Gates is the exception, and it's all because of his mom. Bill Gates started his charitable foundation because his mother got terminal cancer. He got married because of his mom, too. Bill Gates II ran the charitable foundation until "Trey" retired. Gates met Buffet--also as a result of his mom--and Buffet is the guy who modeled being rich for Gates.

Getting into education was typical Gates re-engineering. Techies aren't big fans of teachers, either, so once he started focusing on philanthropy (when he retired), it makes sense that he'd focus on education. It was big, he could (he thought) show those fools how it was done and prove once and again that all social problems need is total control by someone who knows what he's doing. Oops.

Zuckerberg is both rich and unpopular, so, following Gates' example, he chucked up some money. But they're the only two.

Jobs is very much the norm for techies. You heard much about the Google billionaires' philanthropy? They talk about "don't be evil" but there's nothing about "don't be selfish". The company has a philanthropy wing, but the individuals aren't particularly into giving money, and I haven't heard anything about them giving to education.

So as a rule, techie bazillionaires don't give money, and when they do, they pick huge social problems that they arrogantly predict they'll solve in a few years--and fail. Education just happens to be Bill Gates' bag.

TH said...

Jobs's widow Laurene Powell Jobs is cofounder and president of College Track, "an after-school program that prepares under-resourced high school students for higher education", and founder and chair of the Emerson Collective, an organization that "primarily focuses on achieving scalable solutions to improve academic outcomes for under-resourced students in America’s public schools". She also sits on the boards of directors of Teach for America ad NewSchools Venture Fund. So it seems that Jobs did not try to close the gap personally, because his wife was using his money to do it.

alexi de sadesky said...

I think the Khan Academy is a start in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

"His products were all kinds of cool among the Disposable Income set, so he never had to buy cool by publicly giving money away to uber-PC causes."

This is pretty much what I was going to say.

Anonymous said...

Why are so many computer companies seemingly left wing?...And back in days or yore, the superrich were more reactionary in their politics (for the most part)....What gives?

This is an extremely important question, as the right really needs some highly intelligent, ultra wealthy guys bankrolling it rather than blowing money on sports teams. Also, note parenthetically that when "right-wing extremists" like Henry Ford die, the left ultimately takes over their foundations and turns the guns back on the right.

There are at least a few dynamics at play:

[1] First, there is increasingly a subculture of libertarians in Silicon Valley. Founders Fund, Palantir, Singularity University, Less Wrong, Seasteading Institute, and many of the YCombinator companies are center-right to right economically.

Importantly, they are capable of defending their positions in a nuanced way. Read the Hacker News comments threads. Frequent commenters like patio11, lionhearted, tptacek, and others are definitely quite practically libertarian in their views.

By "practically" libertarian I mean that they are focused on making their businesses succeed, and in doing so they come to conclusions that are usually libertarian in nature. But the flavor is much more practical and at best microeconomic than macroeconomic.

Even more importantly, this group doesn't really support the Republicans, because they see them as uncool/dumb/ineffectual, because it will hurt recruiting among some computer engineers (who are indeed aggressive progressives), and because this group is in many ways to the right of the Republicans.

[2] Second, a lot of the money which is paid to Democrats is protection money. This is part of the reason that Google supported Obama to the hilt, by inviting him to speak and so on.

Today it is clear that the left did not hold up its end of the bargain. Obama has declared war on venture capital, e.g.:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2998200

And on angels:

http://venturebeat.com/2010/03/26/angel-investing-chris-dodd/

And on VCs again:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2010/06/fight_night_brook_byers_vs_obama.html?page=all

And on Google:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/eugenemyst/google-antitrust-microsoft-war_n_976804_109808520.html

Google, whose top executives have long been a bottomless cup of campaign coffee for Democrats, is finally entering its bipartisan phase, theatrically hiring Republican operatives and broadcasting the news through insider Washington publications, pumping air into a K Street tech bubble. The shift in political strategy comes as Google faces a serious antitrust threat

Now Google FINALLY understands that they are the successful, not just those guys on Wall Street, and so the left is after *them* too, and that buying off Democrats just won't work.

3) The larger reason that Silicon Valley types like Google need to get mugged by reality to understand that the left is trying to kill them is because the left controls the discourse and destroys civilizational memory. We remember Harriet Tubman, not Emma Goldman; we remember Abraham Lincoln, not the Wide Awakes; we know of Joseph McCarthy but not Samuel Dickstein.

So it's probably worth it to put together some cautionary tales of companies murdered/assaulted by the federal government, and start getting that into heavy rotation in the Valley.

Memory = vaccination = resistance.

Bantam said...

Mitch, you're right; Google has set up a $1 billion philanthropy in 2006 and started planning the pledge of a promise to give $25 million in 2008, eventually leading to some modest contributions.

Sergey Brin & Larry Page apparently refrained from signing "the giving pledge" as well.

Anonymous said...

Steve Jobs did bash Teacher's Unions though...

http://www.pcworld.com/article/129214/jobs_bashes_teachers_unions.html

C-Lab said...

Personal anecdote: we used home schooling software to help bring our kindergarten child up to speed after they told us that she would need to be held back.

In about a month, she was where she was supposed to be. After 3 months, she was ahead.

However, it does require adult supervision and a child willing to engage the lessons. Knowing this, I don't it will help to close The Gap.

Wes said...

Lemmus, the openness to experience makes sense, and those types are often more lefty. But ...

Didn't Henry Ford need creativity too? Thomas Edison? Walt disney? Howard Hughes was a pretty original thinker as well. Yet they were quite conservative and nationalistic (especially Hughes and Ford). Something still doesn't make sense.

The ethnic composition of elites has changed - more Jewish- and this has probably skewed the rich more lefty than the past; I think there is a book on that topic.

Or maybe these computer companies are only superficially lefty, like a cool cap they like to wear, to impress their broheims, nothing more.

sabril said...

"Why are so many computer companies seemingly left wing? I am thinking of Apple, Google, Facebook, Mircosoft, etc."

Most successful people and companies make a show of being left wing.

You could just as easily ask why successful businessmen in the middle ages were pro-Church.

Even the Republican Party is pretty much left wing in terms of refusing to challenge the lie that genetic potential is distributed equally among all races.

Mitch said...

Good lord, I forgot about Mrs. Jobs--which is ridiculous, since I had a pretty noteworthy contract at College Track for three years running (I put the results of this contract on a website showing that it is, in fact, possible to raise low income Hispanic/black test scores with test prep).

But College Track is pretty small potatoes. I can think of two other organizations that do what it does in East Palo Alto alone. Incidentally, CT only funds students if they go to a four year college. She talks about how important it is to support minority students, but they only get that support if they go to a 4 year.

Anonymous said...

i think the dearth of educational software, is deliberate

i think the establishment is deliberately trying to keep the lid on educational innovation.

billy ayers is not an idiot. they all know how their scam works and it works because they have the children in their schools.

Marlowe said...

From a very interesting WIRED interview granted by Jobs back in the 1990s:

"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 in my life. It was judged one of the 100 best schools in America. It was phenomenal. The tuition was $5,500 a year, which is a lot of money for most parents. But the teachers were paid less than public school teachers - so it's not about money at the teacher level. I asked the state treasurer that year what California pays on average to send kids to school, and I believe it was $4,400. While there are not many parents who could come up with $5,500 a year, there are many who could come up with $1,000 a year.

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." You could have a track at Stanford within the MBA program on how to be the businessperson of a school. And that MBA would get together with somebody else, and they'd start schools. And you'd have these young, idealistic people starting schools, working for pennies.

They'd do it because they'd be able to set the curriculum. When you have kids you think, What exactly do I want them to learn? Most of the stuff they study in school is completely useless. But some incredibly valuable things you don't learn until you're older - yet you could learn them when you're younger. And you start to think, What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?

God, how exciting that could be! But you can't do it 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 the solutions to our problems in education. Unfortunately, technology isn't it. You're not going to solve the problems by putting all knowledge onto CD-ROMs. We can put a Web site in every school - none of this is bad. It's bad only if it lulls us into thinking we're doing something to solve the problem with education.

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.

It's not as simple as you think when you're in your 20s - that technology's going to change the world. In some ways it will, in some ways it won't."

eh said...

sainted

Wrong adjective.

Anonymous said...

"Jobs's widow Laurene Powell Jobs is cofounder and president of..."

A lot of the things billionaires do for charity are as much to placate their wives as for public praise. They may not necessarily be thrilled about it, but women are supposed to be the gentler sex, and not many guys aspire to marry a woman who says "screw the lot of them, let them starve!"

Jobs may have constrained the amount his widow could blow by leaving it mostly to his kids. He had already founded Apple and NeXT when they married in 1991, and he seems unsentimental enough to have signed a prenup. It would be a 20-year-old prenup, but not many women are likely to decimate their biological childrens' inheritance by waging a nasty legal battle.

Jobs seemed like the perfect blend of European intelligence (his mother) and shocking Arab assertiveness (his father, whom he apparently hated). Wonder if that's the sort of hybrid behavior that helped the Jews do so well...

Anonymous said...

It cannot be simply concerns about The Gap that prevent educational software from working. If so, there would be working versions in Japan and China, where populations are homogeneous (Japan) or the government is utterly un-PC (China). Neither of those places have effective educational software I've read about.

Which makes the mystery much bigger. Logic says that software should be able to crush teachers. Whatever the shortcomings of machine v. person, it's effectively a tireless private tutor battling an emotionally checked out drone lecturing to three dozen kids. The failure of educational software is one of the great mysteries of modern life, one that should be taken much more seriously in an age when no-skill jobs are disappearing. It won't ever close the gap, but it should be able to boost all ability groups considerably.

Anonymous said...

Why are so many computer companies seemingly left wing? I am thinking of Apple, Google, Facebook, Mircosoft, etc. Was this always true of computer/software companies? Was IBM that way? Hewlett Packer?


1) Because it's important to their brand to be seen as "cool."

2) To keep the libs in academia off their backs

Anonymous said...

If you look at Steve Jobs through an unbiased eye, it's obvious enough that the man is such a crank and so whimsical on any topic other than technology -- and indeed often on technology itself -- that one simply can't draw any useful conclusions as to why he believed or acted the way he did.

He clearly states his views, in the interview quoted above, that he believed, as does Bill Gates, in the peculiar evil of Teachers unions in bringing about bad educational outcomes, and also believes that vouchers, etc., are the way out of the problem.

But did he throw any real amount of his own huge stash of money at that? No.

The sainted Jobs was in fact an asshole whose assholiness never hurt him because the had the elites worshiping him for other reasons: he gave them technology talismans they could carry around to distinguish themselves on sight from the unwashed.

Sometimes, there is nothing deep about why a person does, or fails to do, certain things; there is no larger, coherent world view that animates their acts. They are, in fact, engaging in nothing more than acting out their own essentially random, narcissistic, and primitive impulses.

Anonymous said...

I once read an interview with Jobs where he described meeting his bio-sister for the first time. She turned out to be a published novelist, of the lit. fic., not the genre variety. He said in that interview that meeting her made him switch from the nurture to the nature view.

One of the reasons Jobs was so popular with hipsters is that he was a genuine hippy. He'd gone to India as a youth, dropped acid, dated Joan Baez, etc. It came out in the recent death coverage that during the first year after his cancer diagnosis he treated it with "alternative medicines."

He never felt the need to prove his hippy-ness to anybody. He was the real thing. I don't say that as a compliment, I'm just stating a fact. John Lennon wasn't a pauper either - if hippies weren't blind to hypocrisy, how could they be hippies?

A former NFL linebacker who goes on Dancing with the Stars isn't suddenly going to look gay to football fans. In the same way, Jobs not spending money on lefty causes didn't look like a meany to leftists. Gates looks like a meany to them even when he DOES spend money on their causes. It's all about identity, not actual causes.

Fernandinande said...

...under-resourced high school students...

Heh. Another euphemism for "stupid", but I prefer "struggling" because it brings to mind kids duct-taped to their desks.

Luke Lea said...

@ Jobs - "What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?"

Jobs and I both spent time at Reed College, where the curriculum, a surprisingly traditional one, was the main thing the school had going for it -- that, and not revealing student grades until after graduation. There were few good teachers (though Jobs seems to have found a couple) but really good reading lists. Which reminds me, a third thing going for Reed was the amount of required reading, hundreds of pages per week: the whole emphasis was not on mastery of facts (there were way too many to master) but rather learning how to express yourself orally and in writing about the things everyone was reading. Thus, though 90% of the student body was rather flackey (as in knee-jerk left-wing) and the teachers were second rate, you got a first-rate liberal arts education. Bottom line: institutions and the traditions they embody can be more important than the individuals who populate them at any one moment in their history. The U.S. Constitution is another example.

Anonymous said...

Wes said, "Didn't Henry Ford need creativity too? Thomas Edison? Walt disney? Howard Hughes was a pretty original thinker as well. Yet they were quite conservative and nationalistic (especially Hughes and Ford). Something still doesn't make sense."

Lawrence Auster had a good explanation for this. He said that the reason so many high speed individuals are lefties today is that liberalism is the dominant ideology and if you want to move up in the world, government or corporate, you need to publicly mouth liberal principles.

In other times and places, other ideologies have been dominant and those wishing to move up have had to pay lip service to them too. Werner Von Braun, the guy who put us on the moon, joined the Nazi party probably more to continue his rocket research than for any deep seated beliefs. Hugo Junkers did not join and lost his company after they came to power.

I am sure many of the best and brightest were members of the communist party in the USSR too. And a hundred years ago in the USA, patriotism and nationalism were highly valued so Ford fit in well.

Nanonymous said...

Steve Jobs:
"Lincoln did not have a Web site at the log cabin where his parents home-schooled him, and he turned out pretty interesting."

Funny - it reads exactly like what Steve Sailer would write.

Anonymous said...

Why are so many computer companies seemingly left wing? I am thinking of Apple, Google, Facebook, Mircosoft, etc. Was this always true of computer/software companies? Was IBM that way? Hewlett Packer?
Microsoft was not early on, they didn't even lobby congress.. then.. all the anti-trust talk popped up... also Gate's wife is the one who convinced him to do the africa stuff-

Anonymous said...

1) Most software engineers/users were nerds in school and got beat up by the cool kids, so naturally they root for the underdog and that's nominally "the left".

2) Most software engineers/users hate hate hated the authority figures in their youth, mainly teachers/schools. Their authority figures failed them miserably, so naturally they hate authority, which is nominally "the right".

Now we could argue how such believes are misplaced, but try to remember politics is about tribalism and signaling.

Harry Baldwin said...

Mary Kay Place's character in The Big Chill was a corporate lawyer. Asked why she gave up being a public defender, she said, "I just didn't think they'd be so ... guilty."

After they flush away a few hundred million, I can imagine these education reformers thinking, "I just didn't think they'd be so ... stupid."

Harry Baldwin said...

Marlowe said... This private school is the best school I've seen in my life. It was judged one of the 100 best schools in America. It was phenomenal. The tuition was $5,500 a year, which is a lot of money for most parents.

Wow, a lot has changed since the 90s. The private school I attended in the 1960s now charges $32,000 a year. And it's a day school.

jody said...

jobs probably never thought about this very stupid, very annoying topic. thank goodness for that. no brainpower wasted on this dumb stuff, all brainpower focused on real stuff.

macintosh did give away thousands of free computers to colleges in the 90s. this was not philanthropy or charity. they were trying to turn the students into macintosh users early on, so when they graduated, they purchased mac computers instead of PCs. it didn't work, but they tried. i'd say about half of all the people who went to college in the 90s encountered macintosh equipment on campus.

Harry Baldwin said...

.... “He’s playing chess in a town full of checkers players,” a senior adviser and campaign veteran told me in the first months of the administration. Obama had a “different metabolism,” the aide explained.

“It’s not cockiness,” the adviser added, “it’s confidence.”


According to Ron Suskind's "Confidence Men," Obama wasn't exactly playing chess with Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. More like charades or Twenty Questions.

Mr. Anon said...

When I read that Jobs, upon returning to Apple, eliminated their corporate philanthropy, my estimation of him increased enormously. Businesses have no business donating money to causes. If their employees and investors wish to donate from the money the business generates for them, well and good. But a corpoartion itself ought not to do it.

Anonymous said...

The Life and Times of Steve Jobs' Syrian Father
http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/10/09/170940.html

Anonymous said...

Techies are left because the tech companies happened to happen in California, which as Mr. Sailer has explained, will always be tough to start families in because of the small amount of highly desirable land. It really isn't any more complicated than this. There is a lot of fun to be had around a lot of smart beautiful people in the Bay Area, and people form their grownup selves in a milieu that nearly completely excludes family and childrearing. Result: smart people who believe asinine things. Even without most of them having Asperger's you'd get crazy politics.

Maya said...

What exactly makes you say that there is no effective educational software? I'm not an expert on the subject, as I still prefer to have a book in my hands, so I'm not arguing, just asking.
Fourteen years ago, I put an educational games CD Rom into the family desktop to get my preschool aged sister to leave me alone. She learned shapes, colors, numbers and basic addition in English (a language that wasn't spoken in our home).
Before going abroad to take a job in Europe several years ago, I used a software language refresher course, along with an old fashioned reader. My proficiency jumped several college levels.
The inner city school district where I work requires all students to spend 1 hour per day on Math and English computerized education systems. This is followed very strictly because each student's minutes get logged and sent to some scary central office. Some kids punch away happily, but the vast majority just stares blankly at the computers, enters answers at random and starts fights with their neighbors. Again, I don't really know much about this, so I'm asking: Is it the software that sucks or are a lot of people just not inclined to learn?

Anonymous said...

There's a really obvious reason no one founds schools anymore. The last great private school-founding era was the 70s. These schools were founded in response to bussing. They were founded by the very last groups of educated upper class American women with no careers. No one with the ability to pull something like this off has the leisure anymore to do it. We are still reeling from the loss of the American clubwoman and hostess; many things that suck about society today stem directly from the fact that nobody is around to run anything that doesn't pay anymore.

Anonymous said...

http://www.firstpost.com/world/why-steve-jobs-love-affair-with-india-ended-very-very-early-100615.html

"Clearly, Jobs’ peregrinations in the India of the 1970s were less than enlightening. He was probably psyched by the extent of poverty and chaos he found here. His biography says he found India “intense and disturbing,” and his search for enlightenment ended abruptly.

After his India trip, he concluded: “We weren’t going to find a place where we could go for a month to be enlightened. It was one of the first times that I started to realise that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Kairolie Baba put together.”"

LOL!

Note: Apple does not have a single Indian in upper management - kinda rare for a tech company. And it's been doing pretty friggin' well.

Namaste and bye bye Mr. H1-B!

Anonymous said...

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-10-07/news/30253986_1_steve-jobs-story-of-apple-computer-steve-wozniak

"Steve Jobs came to India as a teenager in search of enlightenment. He returned disappointed, following a brush with lice, scabies, dysentery and a near mob thrashing after he protested at being sold watered-down buffalo milk."

Ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

She turned out to be a published novelist, of the lit. fic., not the genre variety. He said in that interview that meeting her made him switch from the nurture to the nature view. yes but why are the parents of both just hum drum?

... Also: about liberal 'creativity' first, left wing creativity is pretty darn awful compared to the standards of say, art that preceded it. Picasso is a mediocre fraud who couldn't draw half as well as any French academy painter.

but also as Steve (our steve) points out, for most history creators were generally 'conservative' or have what we would recognize as conservative values (national and ethnic loyalty for example, was a given - read dicken's reaction to the indian mutinty for example)

Anonymous said...

It's funny how this game works. Smart guy tries to destroy other smart guys in the business but then tries to help the dummies who will never pose a threat.

I don't know why Jobs didn't play that game.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Gates and Zuckerberg do it as a recruiting tool. Most smart people are liberals(and many are Jews), and so their companies need the right cred to attract the best-smartest people who happen to be liberal. So, why not pretend to do good work?

Marlowe said...

Nanonymous: Funny - it reads exactly like what Steve Sailer would write.

I had a similar reaction. Perhaps all Steves who grew up during the 60s & 70s and who worked in IT during the 80s think alike? Or did Jobs' father get about?

Baloo said...

Marlowe, that's the most revealing thing I've heard about Jobs since all the rush of coverage started. You're quoted by Ex-Army HERE.

Anonymous said...

As a Computer Programmer for over 10 years I personally am very skeptical of computers in the classroom. If I have to write a particularly complex algorithm I still have to write it down on paper and work it out before coding. I definitely think there is some psycho-neural benefit of writing versus using a keypad. Maybe it just wasn't money...maybe Jobs didn't think it was good for kids. Even though I code for a living I definitely think kids are being done a disservice by all the pushing of computers in classrooms. New Jersey is even ending the learning of writing in script which is a travesty. Anyway, Jobs also wouldn't allow porn apps for Apple products and he certainly gave up billions of dollars by that decision. For me, he was the Thomas Edison of our age.

Anonymous said...

"It's possible that neither of his adoptive parents had a college degree. His adoptive father is described as a machinist."

Jobs adoptive father didn't graduate from high school and his adoptive mom only had a high school diploma. His biological mom wouldn't sign the adoption papers unless they promised to send Jobs to college. As we all know he spent 6 months at college and dropped out.

Anonymous said...

Steve Jobs came to India as a teenager in search of enlightenment. He returned disappointed, following a brush with lice, scabies, dysentery and a near mob thrashing after he protested at being sold watered-down buffalo milk."
as far as visiting to India goes, he got off easy.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

"yes but why are the parents of both just hum drum?"

Both biological mother and father earned graduate degrees; his father earned a Ph.D. at a fairly young. The father seems shiftless, in both his familial and career obligations. He taught poli sci at several colleges and is now, at 80, a VP at a small casino in Reno. His shiftlessness could be a sign of failure, or a sign of boredom. He has no plans to retire. His father, Steve's bio-granddad, was apparently
a very wealthy man in Syria
.

As for the genetic contributions of his mother: smart women don't generally achieve greatness - they bare sons who do. That's just nature.

One fact of interest: when they put the unborn Steve up for adoption in 1955 he was first going to go to a professional couple who wanted a girl. The blue collar Jobs's got him instead, with the stipulation they had to send him to college. Steve's bio-parents were definitely thinking ahead.

Whiskey said...

Larry Ellison does not exactly donate to charity, but spends billions on the America's Cup. There are a lot of guys like him.

As for lack of software: www.khanacademy.org . That is all.

smarter than mitch said...

"but also as Steve (our steve) points out, for most history creators were generally 'conservative' or have what we would recognize as conservative values (national and ethnic loyalty for example, was a given - read dicken's reaction to the indian mutinty for example)"

Sailer covers this topic periodically. Most creative types seem to be more do as I say not as I do liberals. Though I've never seen a conspiracy in the multiplicity of boomer Steves, I have wondered that the liberal speak out of successful people with somewhat traditional lifestyles wasn't a trick to cull the herd or something like.

Anonymous said...

A few comments:

People into computer programming tend to be extremists. Several of the lone gunman nuts in the last few years have been computer programmers. I have heard other computer programmers tell me the same thing: "Did you ever notice that computer programmers are all really extreme about politics?" Leftwing, rightwing, libertarian, whatever, programmers are hardcore.

Last January I discovered Anki. It is a free open source flashcard program that you can use to study anything, but its most popular subject is probably Japanese. I learned more Kanji and have progressed further using this software than I have in the last 10 years of study. When my kid is old enough to start using it for fact based subjects I suspect it will be a huge benefit.

Anonymous said...

"Last January I discovered Anki."

OK, I can second that. Anki has helped me learn a lot of things. It'd flashcards, only smarter. Very simple: if you recognize a flashcard, you'll get to see it after a longer interval than before. If you don't recognize a flashcard, you'll get to see it sooner. The program is free, and you can make your own flashcards about any topic you want, or you can download other people's decks.

Anonymous said...

It is traditional for tech titans to give money to the university they attended, and get a building or program named after them.

Tech usually deals with abstractions, and not so much real world institutions and the people who fill them. Close contact with ugly reality with a few muggings mixed in tends to make conservatives out of people.

Anonymous said...

People into computer programming tend to be extremists. Several of the lone gunman nuts in the last few years have been computer programmers. I have heard other computer programmers tell me the same thing: "Did you ever notice that computer programmers are all really extreme about politics?" Leftwing, rightwing, libertarian, whatever, programmers are hardcore.

They have Asperger's, dummy, so 1) they can't follow social norms in terms of communicating their beliefs and 2) when they find a likeminded group of people who will accept them and provide them with any kind of social life they have no moderation because they're so lonely.

Anonymous said...

Apple products are hugely popular among women and gays. Those are their target demographics.

eh said...

When he found Mona Simpson, who had grown up in entirely different circumstances, Jobs felt as if they had been part of some genetics experiment. He was struck by the similarity in their intensity, traits and appearance. As he was growing close to Simpson, he was also getting to know his daughter Lisa, whose early years were spent apart from Jobs, and watching his two younger children grow up. "I used to be way over on the nurture side, but I've swung way over to the nature side," he says. "And it's because of Mona and having kids. My daughter is 14 months old, and it's already pretty clear what her personality is."

ur not so smaht said...

"Very simple: if you recognize a flashcard, you'll get to see it after a longer interval than before. If you don't recognize a flashcard, you'll get to see it sooner."

In old tech you'd simply make a smaller pile of the flashcards you still weren't recognizing easily and review this group more often than the larger pile of mastered material. Physically writing out the term and meaning may make memorizing the material easier and faster, sorta gets etched into the brain as you make the shapes of the letters.

Duncan said...

I interviewed for a position in Cupertino two years ago, but decided to stay on the east coast. My take is that Apple is a conservative company with a thin veneer of "free to be you and me" sloganeering.

The reverence for the company's products and history and for the founders do however go against the anonymous corporate governence that dominates everywhere.

Not that different than working for Ford let's say 50 years ago. Except Steve fills the Henry Ford role.

Otis McWrong said...

Anon @2:41 said "Note: Apple does not have a single Indian in upper management - kinda rare for a tech company. And it's been doing pretty friggin' well."

Perot Systems (among others) does not either. They tend to make very good engineers (strivers) but are incredibly political and often quite comfortable with a "s**t rolls down hill" management style. I've worked with seven and for one and am 0-8 in terms of finding one I'd trust as far as I could throw him.

JW Ogden said...

For a software company to get big in this area it needs to be able to first appeal to parents. The companies need to show that their software will help your child get a better grade math/English/science but one of the problems is that many teachers teach different things at different times and use different terms and students forget. Because you child can do unit of geometry in the software does not mean that he can get a good grade in the geometry that his teacher is teaching right now. This is because school is more about testing for intelligence than teaching and this makes it difficult for software developers.

A separation of education and testing might help.

Anonymous said...

There's a really obvious reason no one founds schools anymore. The last great private school-founding era was the 70s. These schools were founded in response to bussing. They were founded by the very last groups of educated upper class American women with no careers. No one with the ability to pull something like this off has the leisure anymore to do it.

This is not true.

Consider Patrick Henry College (2000) and New Saint Andrews (1994). These are academically selective rising stars catering to the same WASP students that most great American colleges were founded to educate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Saint_Andrews_College

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Henry_College

Londoner said...

Probably because he knew it isn't possible. He's a hard-nosed manwithgoldchains, not a lily-livered nicewhiteliberal like Gates.

Londoner said...

Sorry, was. RiP.

triffid said...

"Because you child can do unit of geometry in the software does not mean that he can get a good grade in the geometry that his teacher is teaching right now."

I've had trouble myself using the teacher's preferred problem solving method, usually the only one allowed. What helped me was getting old textbooks on the same level as the course I was taking. Surprisingly, you could find as many as three ways to solve the same kind of math problem - at least one of which I could grasp easily. This eventually made it possible for me to do it/understand it the teacher's way.

Sounds like a lot of work but really you only have to compare short chapters across books. Don't know if you can do the same with software nowadays but those old textbooks were cheap (and heavy).

Anonymous said...

Consider Patrick Henry College (2000) and New Saint Andrews (1994). These are academically selective rising stars catering to the same WASP students that most great American colleges were founded to educate.

Right, two conservative colleges drawing on the last subcultures that retain traditional sex roles is a complete rebuttal of my point. What the fuck is wrong with you?

Anyway we're talking about K-12.

Anonymous said...

There's a really obvious reason no one founds schools anymore. The last great private school-founding era was the 70s. These schools were founded in response to bussing. They were founded by the very last groups of educated upper class American women with no careers. No one with the ability to pull something like this off has the leisure anymore to do it.

Yes, they are. They are called home schools, university model schools, coops etc. Easily more educated women of means are involved than during the 70's. In my city there are more than 20 homeschool coops and literally hundreds of tutors and tutoring agencies catering to this group and there are about 2 million students in home schools in the US.

More continue to be founded. The 90's and 00's saw huge expansion in this private schooling movement. And yeah, they tend to often be the traditional type of families.

Anonymous said...

Oh lord you guys are SO STUPID. A homeschool co-op is NOT A PRIVATE SCHOOL. It is not an institution you drop your kids off at for 6-8 hours, that runs sports teams, that employs college counselors, that provides study abroad opportunities, that owns facilities for photography, theater, a language lab.... just seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people? You can't see the difference? You think homeschooling mothers like having no life?