Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Four Lessons for Educators from The Facebook Movie. Lesson 4: Build Fast & Break Things

I finally saw The Social Network this week with colleagues. As an innovative educator and administrator the unauthorized, behind-the-scenes look at the makings of Facebook provided lessons to be learned for both educators and administrators. Here are some that I came away with.

Four Lessons From The Social Network

Passion-based learning may mean dropping out of school
Mark Zuckerberg had a passion for creating cool things, but like student Blake Copeland (who developed an iPhone app) and many others, found there is not a place for that in school. Too bad! If a student has a passion, let him/her follow it. Even if it means taking time from the curriculum or a break from school. Those things just don’t matter as much as we’re brain washed to believe they do. If we accept that letting them free, may just be the key, who knows? They just may start the next Facebook, Napster, find a cure for cancer, become a world famous musician, or an Olympic athlete. If they find it’s worth it, they can always come back to school, but many never do.

Upon escape, today’s student might become a CEO, your boss, or a billionaire
Mark Zuckerberg had bigger things to do then attend the prestigious holding cell for the rich and brilliant. Though he had aspirations to obtain the obligatory piece of Ivy paper, the reality was the real-world had much more in store for him and he fell the way of so many others who, like Aaron Iba (who recently was paid 10 million by Google for software he created), discovered he could succeed despite, not because of school.

In fact, is infantalizing students for so long before they can declare, “I am the CEO bitch,” really in the best interest of students or society? Historically, people began doing great things during the years that today we force them to sit in class and do well on standardized tests. It wasn’t always this way. If we did remove societal pressures, outdated assessments and instead supported students in the discovery, development, and attainment of areas of talents, interests, and passions maybe we’d have more people like those from our history books who accomplished all of this before age 15:
  • Susan B. Anthony began teaching school.
  • Henry Ford, left the farm and moved to Detroit to train as a machinist.
  • Benjamin Franklin contributed anonymously to a local newspaper.
  • Louis Braille, blind since age 3, improved the method of raised writing.
  • Anne Frank wrote the final entry in her diary.
  • Mozart began composing symphonies.
  • French painter Renoir worked at a porcelain factory, painting flowers on dishware.
  • Arctic explorer Matthew Alexander Henson first went to sea.
  • Pilot Victoria Van Meter became the youngest girl ever to fly across the United States.
  • Jean Piaget published a scientific article, based on observations of an albino sparrow near his home.
  • Vinay Bhat became the youngest chess master in the world.
  • Daisy Ashford wrote a novel which sold over 200,000 copies.
  • Shirley Temple became a millionaire and received an honorary Oscar.

Cut loose those who are holding you back
Mark Zuckerberg cut/loosened ties with two close friends and employees in the early days of Facebook when it became clear that they didn’t always have the best interest of the company at heart. One was his businessman Eduardo Saverin who didn’t follow the company and who, when pissed off, froze the company bank account. The other was Napster’s Sean Parker who he looked up to as a mentor, but when push came to shove, Parker was too fast and loose in life putting the company at risk and not liked by investors.

Lesson for education is your only as strong as the weakest link and in the words of Jim Collins, “If you can’t get the right people on the bus, you’re not as likely to get where you want to go.”

Build Fast and Break Things
That’s advice from the horse’s mouth-Mark Zuckerberg. What if we encouraged, rather than penalized this behavior in schools? Well, the answer of course, is that maybe they could get hired by/start a company like Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his dorm room in at age 19. Five years later, it has more than 300 million users, $500 million in revenue, and is worth upwards of $6 billion. Now 25, Mark still runs the place.

Want to know a little more about the guy who this unauthorized movie featured? Watch this video from his interview last year with Business Insider.

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