Home > Believe it or not!, Eh?, Inspirational, Life, Relationships, Tips > Career Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

Career Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

Note: This is timely, given Jobs’ resignation.

Microsoft’s founder would invest in fields proved to produce jobs. Apple’s founder extols the liberal arts.

Rival Views, Both Right

Updated March 21, 2011, 07:24 PM, nytimes.com

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is president emeritus and university professor at
George Washington University and a partner in Korn Ferry International.

Is there an app for improving America’s educational system? Will watching
a PowerPoint presentation about the nation’s educational challenge help to
understand the opportunities and difficulties facing the country?

Two college dropouts, Steve Jobs (Reed College) and Bill Gates (Harvard
University) have articulated theories about education. And their viewpoints are as
different as are their companies (Apple and Microsoft, respectively), presenting a
contrast in style and philosophy.

Flashback to 1983: Jobs and Gates.

Gates hopes to analyze and adjust the education system in order to produce a
more efficient and effective learning environment. He advocates sophisticated
metrics to measure results. What makes one teacher better at her job than
another and how can best practices be shared? Technology enables analysis and
is also the delivery mechanism.

Once the education community receives reliable disaggregated research, the
policy makers can allocate their limited resources in a fashion that will produce a
higher yield. As Gates has said, “…we need to raise performance without spending
a lot more.”

Jobs is focused more on individual learning and less on systemic education.
Technology is his way to get a well-integrated mind flowing in multiple directions.
His learning philosophy gives each person the ability to chart his own course. It is
less about the structure of the system and more about free will.

A discerning mind, one that blends science and Springsteen, is the backbone of
the creative spirit: ideas fuel entrepreneurship.

Gates’ recent speech to the nation’s governors stressed assessment, measuring
outcomes and tracking students’ progress. Technology and benchmarking are
joined at the hip. He feels it is worth charting the effectiveness of particular
majors with regional job creation. (Does he favor vocational education?)

Jobs’ approach allows for individual experimentation to find a unique solution to
each person’s quest. It is the symbol of intellectual multi-tasking. This is a more
experimental, integrated search for a holistic view of the universe, one that has
multiple access points. Each student becomes his or her own teacher.

My heart is with Jobs (full disclosure: I wrote this on a MacBook Pro). But my
mind fully understands Gates’ mandate to discover ways to maximize scarce
resources to best prepare the workforce. It is beyond noble; it is essential. Gates
has contributed millions, perhaps even billions, for the study of education. He is
looking for the vaccine to cure education’s ailing health. Jobs is tripping our mind
with the jazz of life put before us to spark awareness that the more we learn the
more powerful we become.

How does this relate to the curriculum of higher education? Keep poetry,
architectural history and Russian literature alongside mechanical engineering and
agricultural studies. A discerning mind, one that blends science and Springsteen,
is the backbone of the creative spirit: ideas fuel entrepreneurship.

Gates is studying the science of education. Jobs is creating the art of learning.
I’m sure there is an app for teaching arithmetic by watching the heavens and
counting the stars.

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