Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs Tells Us Why Dropping Out Was a Key to Finding His Passion

Death is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. -Steve Jobs

I often write about my frustration around data-not passion-driven learning, the narrowing of the curriculum and the new College for all mandate in American schools today as part of the Common Core Standards.  We are not widgets, we are people and we shouldn't all be pushed down the same one-size-fits all path.  

In this video, Steve Jobs reminds us, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do."  "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life... Don't be trapped by dogma which is living out the life of other people's thinking."  Ed reformers must listen to Job's message and stop forcing our children down a path and start letting them make their own choices for what might be best for them.  

Visionary Steve Jobs shares these ideas in the commencement speech below.  

Don't be sad because it's over. Smile because it happened. -- Dr. Seuss


  1. Steve Jobs is a name that will be remembered. He's an innovator and his story is very inspiring. Interest, passion, choice and creativity are so important when children are growing up. Encouraging children to think and create is so important and yet not seen as often in classroom settings. I hope our nation takes something away from Steve Job's message. His death is very sad, but in his own words "it is life's change agent."

  2. college for all should be an "option" - after all the unemployment figures for college grads is HALF lower than for those without. And, we don't need everyone to have a "four year degree" / dorm room experience. But, we need nearly all to have at least "some" college. And that is affordable and achievable if we get past needless arguments.

  3. No, he didn't finish college. Neither did Bill Gates. But they both did that at a time where what they were interested in wasn't there for them. It's following what you would like to do and blazing your own trail because you don't see that you'll get something out of it.

    Steve Jobs also had a vision that he wanted those who worked for him to follow. He built himself up as part of the Apple brand as much as he revolutionized personal computing and other personal technology. In fact, you can look at the way he RAN Apple and see a lot of what you decry in the classroom constantly on this blog.

    Furthermore, don't cherry pick what he said to further your own agenda. It's tacky

  4. I liked the idea of dropping out of school and really learning things out by your own, like what Steve Jobs did. Unless, the school would be able to respond to the need for individualized guidance as students progress, schooling would really deliver what it should be doing.

    Funny though, the whole video was part of my classroom discussion a few months back. I did highlight the line dropping out and pursuing your passion, but here in our economically developing country, it seems not a viable option. In this side of the world, the schools are still struggling in teaching students literacy and numeracy, while the rest are on the side of teaching students how to learn and how to learn on their own.

    I am glad I was able to share this to my students few months before Steve Job died. What is saddening about his demise is that he carried to his grave probably a hundred or thousand more ideas that would bring about more innovations.

    By the way, I was so inspired with your blog that I started my own. I call it The Edgycator: Edgy-educating in the province.

  5. Replying to a few comments here.

    Many successful people didn't finish college and yes, it was because college didn't have what they want...A bunch of lectures led by someone else telling you what to learn and when and that you had to pay a lot for the carrots and sticks they'd give you after you do so. Additionally, many college programs are woefully traditional and stuck in the past. For most you leave college without a real portfolio that will help you land a job. Colleges have lost focus.

    There are many people who are on to this scam that have figured out that for many careers college is just not necessary. Especially those of us who realize that we don't need to work full-time for someone else to attain success i.e. business owners, writers, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, photographers, inventors, musicians, etc. etc. etc.

    Steve Jobs’ education path is a model by which some intelligent, creative, and driven people can best succeed. Those who want to follow the status quo are not those people.

    There are some who have created DIY plans and their work and followings are gaining momentum (

    Regarding the idea that college leads to greater success and earnings, I recommend taking a careful look at such studies and information. When you do, you will learn that it is not college that has led to this. These studies, are looking at those college graduates that were pushed down a single path that worked for honor roll students in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s. The studies are looking at data from traditional college student. Not the watered down system that is leaving students in debt, out of work and protesting on Wall Street.

    What the research actually shows is that if we took those same grads who were studied and they had selected a different path to achieve their goals, chances are they would do equally well or better financially without college and without college debt. The problem here today is that students are blindly following the path to college and we have forgot a key idea that Jobs reminds us to do in this speech. Fnd and follow our passions and let that, not what someone else tells us to do, guide us.

    You can read more about this and other college myths at

  6. No matter how many times you say it the numbers show less unemployment and higher pay the more education you achieve. If there is a particular study you have to share that supports that this is not true please share it, I want to be able to let my students see it.

    The point the inidividual, I believe, was making about Steve Jobs path is not that he wasn't interested in school, but that the school literally did not have courses that met his needs. Not that the story not might be different in the present had he been born when programs had time to develop in his field.

    I am not attempting to say that everyone needs to go to college to find success, just that oftentimes college can have the people and resources all in one plaeto help you achieve your goal - it is a viable option that individuals need to consider carefully, just like any other big life choice.

    I have lots of debt I'd rather not have, but I also have a job in the field I want as a result. It was my responsibility to make the decision for the loans. Some bad choices I made mean it will take about 2 extra years to pay them off, but it was my choice then and I have to deal with its consequences now.

  7. With Steve Jobs ends the relentless driving force of Apple, perhaps. Tim may be the best replacement, but there will never be another Steve Jobs' again. Miss you, Steve!