What Guy Kawasaki Taught Me About Education

I’ll admit when Guy Kawasaki was announced as one of the main speakers at iPadapalooza I wasn’t really sure who he was.  I had no idea that he worked with Steve Jobs and was a part of developing the first Macintosh computers.  I had no idea what to expect, but I was in for a great presentation as I soon found out.  As I’m getting ready to start back to another school year I wanted to reflect on a few of the key things from his presentation.

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First piece of advice from Guy “innovators ignore naysayers.”  When you are trying to innovate something you will inevitable come up against the naysayers.  What you do at that point is a defining moment.  You can either listen to them and stop trying or you can embrace failure and see it as an opportunity.  We need innovators in education who aren’t afraid to ignore the naysayers.  We need students to see this and to learn to push through and not give up.  We need them to dream big, because the world that they are going to inherit has big problems that need big solutions.

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Second thing is “design does count.”  Whether your an Apple fan or not, it’s hard to deny the fact that they have become one of the most successful companies of all time.  They pay meticulous attention to detail.  Everything that they create is crafted to be simple and beautiful.  So how does this apply to the classroom?  This year I’m going to get rid of desks in my classroom.  I am going to design my classroom so that students feel comfortable and peaceful.  Lots of businesses think about design when they build a new building.  Coffee shops create atmospheres that are pleasant and inviting to people.  My classroom will be designed so that my students can spend more time in collaborative groups and learning through creativity.

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Third idea is “changing your mind is a sign of strength.” It’s easy to look at people that change their mind and judge them for not sticking to what they said.  However, changing your mind means that you are analyzing what is going on and you are willing to go in a different direction if that is what is needed.  I think a lot of us get stuck on what we think is the “right” way that we refuse to change.  There’s a lot of people that claim to have the right way to do education, but I don’t think it’s that simple.  Education is an art and it requires us to step back sometime and look at what we made.  If changes need to be made then we have to be bold enough to make them.

This year let’s take time to be innovators.  Ignore the naysayers and do something in your classroom that can be transformative.  Take time to think about the design of your classroom.  Look at your classroom and see if the design meets the needs of your students.  Does it give them space to be creative and collaborate together?  Think about what you are doing this year and if something needs to change be bold enough to make that change.  Changing your mind is a sign of strength not weakness.  We all need to analyze what we are doing and ask ourselves if things need to change.  It’s not about what works for us or what makes us comfortable.  It’s about the students and we have to remember that or we risk a group of students that is disengaged in learning and doesn’t see the point.  I’m a risk taker at heart, but that’s something I won’t risk.  I won’t risk my students education.

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