For you or me?

Recently I received a message about someone who is doing an internship for Microsoft this summer, but previously did his work at Google.  When I asked how he was doing, the answer I received was, “He is okay with it.  He doesn’t like working at Microsoft as much because of the ‘corporate’ atmosphere and doesn’t appreciate sitting in a cubicle all day.”

Here is what Google says about their own company:

Google is not a conventional company, and we don’t intend to become one. True, we share attributes with the world’s most successful organizations – a focus on innovation and smart business practices comes to mind – but even as we continue to grow, we’re committed to retaining a small-company feel. At Google, we know that every employee has something important to say, and that every employee is integral to our success.

Looking at pictures of everyday life at Google, you see that their business model is different from our traditional mindset, but would anyone argue that it isn’t successful?  They have a clear vision of what they want to do, and their employees are continuously innovating and doing some amazing things.

This is not to say that Microsoft isn’t successful either.  I honestly do not know much about their work culture, but from the brief comments that I have heard from someone working there and comparing the two companies, I would assume that it is a little more in the traditional model.  I do however know that based on what I do know about the two companies, I know which one I would prefer to work for (although many would argue they are both evil in their pursuit of world domination; a topic I really do not have the knowledge to get into).

But if both models work, why would we change our schools from the traditional model (Microsoft) to the more comfortable, yet still innovative (Google) model?  There is often this feeling that “work” has become a dirty word to many of our students, but it also seems that to many work is not something that makes you happy.  Why can’t you have both?  Why can’t we do amazing and innovative things, that are hard work, and enjoy it?  Sounds like flow to me.  When people are engaged and enjoy what they are doing, doesn’t the work and their own sense of value and purpose increase?  This doesn’t only make what we do better, but it makes why we do it more important.

So here’s the real shift in mindset and leadership that we need to see in our schools; we need to work to in an environment where our students do things not because we want them to do it, but because they want to do it.  Reading Kelly Alford’s post on Identity Day, one of her quotes really stuck out to me:

Our Identity Day took place on June third. It was the only assignment all year that was turned in on time by every single student. The students walked into the room excited to share what they had created.

The kids did the work, met (and probably exceeded) the expectations, and enjoyed it.  If you read the entire post from Kelly, you will see how much she enjoyed it as well.

Yes, in all jobs we have to do things that we do not want to do, but that it where the importance of relationships come in.  I am the type of person that will always do my job, whether I like my boss or not, but it is much more rewarding when I do like them.  Our students will do those things as well for their teachers when they know they are cared for and are trusted.

As often as possible though, we need to set those high expectations for our students, help them find what they love, and give them the guidance to do amazing things.  We have a lot of work to do in our schools, and the reality of budgets says that it will take time to change the learning spaces in our schools that are better suited to more enjoyable and better work.  The vision though is that everyday we need to take another step to create better schools for our kids.  They deserve it.

One Comment

  1. You make a great point when you state that we need to create an environment in which students, themselves, want to do the work. One simple way to begin this proces is by allowing students to choose their assessment type. If the teacher would only provide a broad rubric and the student has the flexibility to use multi-media, a demonstration, a presentation, or any creative way to showcase their understanding, I believe students would feel they own the learning. I recently submitted a post on the importance of modernizing our assessment types to match our times – http://brainvibeforeducators.blogspot.com. Students will spend two hours creating a video tutorial because it’s real world. It is much easier to assess a student’s understanding through a video tutorial than it is a multiple choice, true/false, or matching unit test.

    June 12, 2011

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