Steve Jobs on Technology in Education

The following is an excerpt from a 1996 interview Steve jobs did with Wired mag — I think it hold just as true today as it did then.

Wired: Could technology help by improving education?

Steve Jobs: 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.

ebooks flunk

Amy pointed this study out to me, done by the ACM (the professional organization of Computer Science, which happens to be my field), which points out that ebooks fail as textbooks. Which should surprise no one.

A great quote:

But schools may want to pause before jumping on the e-textbook bandwagon. This morning, at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Vancouver, a team of researchers from the University of Washington, led by doctoral student Alex Thayer, is presenting the results of a year-long study of student reading, and the findings suggest that e-readers may be deeply flawed as replacements for traditional textbooks. Students find the devices cumbersome to use, ill-suited to their study routines, and generally underwhelming. Paper textbooks, it seems, may not be quite as obsolete as they appear.

Essentially, we have so many modes of reading while studying that ebooks just can’t handle it. We lose our ability to process from multiple books simultaneously, our ability to make deep cognitive maps of the book as a physical object, and so on.

Down with ebooks. Up with paper!

Pascha 2011

Christ is Risen! Χριστός ανέστη!

I have a new perspective on Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha after serving for the first time this Lent as a psaltis (chanter) for the duration… so much more joyful and less somber when you go to all of the Orthros (morning prayer) services before the liturgies during this time; such beautiful hymns, odes, and prayers that I’d never heard all of before! (ok, I did miss a couple — but made most of them!)

It is amazing how the services are so full of both challenge and sustenance for our souls during this time to help us get through the great fast… I’m constantly amazed by the depth and wisdom the fathers of the church have given us over all the centuries!

I hope for all to have had such a blessed Lent and Feast of Feasts!

(also, comments are now enabled)


So. I’m resurrecting the blog yet again. Seems like the randomness of tweets and facebook posts just don’t do that much for me. The question is, is anyone out there to read it? Is there any desire for some of the old content to be resurrected?  Just for memory’s sake, I’m going to bring back a few really old posts that I liked from way-back-when.

The old site was hacked and was acting as a spam-farm; sorry about that. I’ll try not to let that happen again.

As I do port some of the old content from the previous incarnations of scriptus, they will end up with the original post dates and will all be ‘older’ than this post. I will not be posting every post; just ones that I liked for whatever reason. Also, we had stopped posting from mid 2007 on… so that gap is because there was no content at all.

Red Chile Sauce of Love

(reposted from a facebook note)

Laura asked for our Red Chile Enchilada recipe, so here goes!

Red Chile Sauce

First you have to start with the right sauce. Where I grew up (in Northern New Mexico), you won’t find things like tomatoes or onions in the best enchilada sauces — mostly you will find red chile.

You should start by getting out a blender and adding:

  • 3 tbsp of Red Chile powder (preferably Chimayo Red Chile powder)
    This red Chile powder is pure red chiles ground up, no other additives. Chimayo red chile, from the small town of Chimayo in Northern New Mexico, has an incredible earthiness under the pungency of the chile. Aficionados regard it as the best red chile to be had, ever, anywhere. If the chile is very mild, 4 tbsp may be used.
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • half blender (2 cups) of water
  • 1 clove garlic (we usually use the pre-minced stuff from a jar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch oregano, crushed up, preferable Mexican, but that isn’t super important.

Blend briefly, then add another 2 cups water and blend briefly again. Put in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer, and cook, gently stirring from time to time with a flat-ended spoon, to keep the chiles from sticking to the bottom and to keep a skin off the top, until the sauce thickens. This usually takes 10 to 20 minutes.

Congratulations, now you have an excellent red chile sauce. It is great as an enchilada sauce, or on huevos rancheros, or as a marinade for carne adovada.

[[ Note: For the curious, Chimayo Red Chile powder can be mail ordered, from many places, including this source ]]

Red Chile Enchiladas

In Northern New Mexico, enchiladas are not rolled, they are flat. They can be prepared on individual plates, or as a casserole. I will be describing the latter. You will need corn tortillas and shredded cheese and your sauce, also a baking dish (we use a pyrex one) and preheat the oven to 350F.

- 12 Blue corn tortillas. Blue corn tortillas are the go-to tortilla for red chile enchiladas in northern New Mexico, but you probably won’t find them much outside of New Mexico, so use regular corn tortillas.
- 12 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend (make your own, half cheddar, half jack, as a good approximation)

The tortillas need to be softened up in some oil, so get out a small frypan and put about 1/2 cup of oil into the pan. Heat the oil up over medium high heat. While it is heating, get out a plate and put a couple of paper towels on it. Using tongs, dip the corn tortilla into the oil for 3 to 5 seconds, then turn over and get the other side of the tortilla in the oil for 3 to 5 seconds. Set the tortilla on the paper towels to help rid the excess oil. After 2-3 tortillas are on the plate, add another layer of paper towels and repeat until all the tortillas are softened. Once the oil is off the heat, it is time to assemble the casserole.

To make cleanup easier, spray some nonstick spray (like pam) into the baking pan. Spoon a thin layer of sauce onto the bottom of the pan and then add 3 tortillas in an even layer on the bottom of the pan, somewhat overlapping. This tells you how big your pan should be. Sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the layer, and then add sauce until the cheese is well saturated with sauce. Add another layer of 3 the same way. On the last layer, add the sauce before the cheese, so the cheese layer is on the top. You will probably have some leftover sauce — it is great on your eggs at breakfast!

Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned. About 20 to 25 minutes.

While it is baking, cut some lettuce up into fine strips (2-3 leaves per person) and dice some tomatoes (probably 1/2 tomato per person) to serve on the side (but serve whatever amount suits your tastes!)

When done, let sit and cool for 5-10 minutes, and then serve with the lettuce and tomato as garnish. Add sour cream as desired.

You may even choose a common (and delicious) Northern New Mexican option, and serve the enchilada with a fried egg on top of each serving for those who desire it.

At our house, this makes about 5 servings. Black beans or Pinto bean make a nice side dish, but are completely optional.