The Genius Who Changed Our World

Steve Jobs as a person, was not known for his niceness, but his work that has transformed the world by changing the relationship between humans and technology is undeniably well-known. (And we do love the iPhones and the iPads, don’t we?)

TIME magazine is probably the only magazine that has the most intimate relationship with this rebel genius, and it has published a book the size of the magazine, chronicling the products of his life, through selected articles published in the Time magazine (there were 8 issues in total!). This compilation issue is simply titled: “Steve Jobs – The Genius Who Changed Our World.”

Which other individual has been on the Time magazine cover that many times over the years? Only Presidents and world leaders have that privilege. But Steve Jobs is amongst them. That says a lot about this unique character, doesn’t it?

So what was his real genius?

According to the contributing writers in this book, Jobs’ genius lies in his vision and the execution of his vision. Nothing can get in his way of achieving his dreams.

“He wasn’t a computer scientist, after all. He had no training as a hardware engineer or an industrial designer. His education consisted of a semester at Reed College and a stint at an ashram in India.”

He taught himself about computers. He also studied human behaviour to the tee! By understanding how both work, he succeeded in marketing and selling a product that enticed the senses and enhanced creativity and productivity.

But being nice is not part of Job’s package. Would he have been great if he were nicer to people?

“Jobs will be remembered as a great man, but not necessarily as a nice man.”

He was a control freak, micromanaged to ridiculous levels, and barked at those who could not measure up to his high standards. But it is his obsession with perfection and detail, and a keen eye for clean designs, that made his products what they are today.

“Most companies specialise in one or two things: hardware, software, operating systems, Web services, consumer devices, retail. Apple does them all at once. It’s insane.”

He didn’t even make the machine that revolutionised the computer industry. It was his friend Stephen Wozniak who was the genius behind the computer. “Steve didn’t do one circuit, design or piece of code,” says Wozniak. “He’s not really been into computers, and to this day he has never gone through a computer manual. But it never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, ‘Let’s hold them up in the air and sell a few.'”

And he went on to sell millions. The rest is history. What we can perhaps learn from Steve Jobs is to have a vision and never doubt ourselves.

“When it came to his views, Steve may have been right, he may have been wrong, but he was never in doubt.”

When asked about his imminent ending of his career with Apple, a few years into his battle with cancer, this was his reply: “I don’t think of my life as a career. I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That’s not a career – it’s a life!”

And so, the biggest takeaway for me when I read about Steve Jobs’ life and passion, is that if we have yet to discover our true passion, perhaps we just need more time to explore our interests further. Perhaps we need to explore things we have not explored before. Like calligraphy. Or meditation. Or coding. Or perhaps what we need is not a career, but a life well-lived!

What do you think?

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The Purity of Childhood

How much does our childhood affect our adulthood? I have often wondered about that. For those who were born in the era before the advent of digital technology, childhood was like something you read out of a science fiction book! Everything seemed so strange and alien to the current generation of YouTubers, digital gamers and keyboard warriors. When parents share their growing up years with their children, they can only imagine what it was like, much like how we had tried to imagine what life was like during the terrifying period of the Japanese occupation in Malaya during our grandparents’ time.

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Creative Schools by Ken Robinson

I got this book some time ago (probably bought by my dear husband who knows I’m a big fan of Ken Robinson!) but hadn’t gotten down to writing about it. Until today – this cool, beautiful wet morning – after a healthy and satisfying breakfast.

After his 3 earlier books, The Element, Finding Your Element, and Out of Our Minds, Creative Schools is a logical and much-needed book following all that vision and high ideals set by its predecessors. And I devoured it like a very hungry 🐛 gnawing at its every word and idea!

First of all, one can gather that it’s not an easy book to write. Even for someone like Sir Ken Robinson. For he is up against the entire world of schooled and highly schooled professionals (many of whom are professors and doctorate scholars I’m sure) who are highly likely to be slighted by his views – especially the ones that involve the much-touted Schooling system that was the work and pride of the early Industrialists who had created the system to fulfil one important task: to keep the industrial wheels going smoothly and efficiently, which it did marvellously. During the Industrial Age. But we’re fast leaving that age behind, and are embracing the Digital Age with a speed never before seen.

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How to build a community of self-directed learners?

I have in the past emphasised a great deal on the importance of community in our chosen learning path. And I have received questions from those keen on starting a group similar to ours but have no idea how to begin. Or there are those who formed interest-based co-ops to do science, math, history or geography, but have encountered various problems and inevitably had to disband the groups.

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The importance of community in learning and growing

I still have strong nostalgia for those magical years of living the unschooling communal life with the families who gave their time and effort to nurture the “baby” that they created together. It was distinctly different from learning at “homeschool centres” (and ironically we were often mistaken as one) and it was also very different from the co-ops that were sprouting up in the various locations in town. What we had was a COMMUNITY of self-directed and independent learners, interacting wildly and intensively in a very regular basis, and we experimented with various ways to make learning fun and relevant, and made tons of mistakes along the way, which became valuable lessons for us. We cooked and ate together as one big family. Mainly, the kids had lots of time and space to PLAY – which was the main focus in our unschooling journey. Because playing leads to self-discovery. And our children discover their passions through baking, play-acting, dancing, music-making, drawing, story-telling, film-making and many more!

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Clic’s Talentine 2012

A Celebration of Love and Joy!

The idea of doing a year-end recital cum children’s performance came about only a month or so ago. Most schools take about 5-6 months in preparation for their school concert. Our kids at Clic only needed 2 weeks! And pull it off they did, with great vigour and intensity! How did they do it?

The only explanation we can offer is that they were merely presenting what they had been doing all this while in their co-operative unschooling: the freedom to play and to express themselves creatively! Also, we were not aiming for perfection – that is an illusion being chased by others. All we wanted was for the children to plan and perform something that they all enjoyed doing – play acting, dancing and singing! There was no stress or pressure for them to achieve anything other than having fun doing what they enjoy doing. Parents merely helped to manage their rehearsals and preparations. Other than that, it was truly a children’s effort!

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Teaching children at Little Yellow Flower – thankful for the opportunity!

When I was a kid, my favourite role play was acting as a school teacher. I loved to “teach” my two younger brothers and pretended to mark their papers, just like how my dad used to do. He’d bring back stacks of test papers from school and I’d be the one helping him mark them! Throughout my primary schooling, I’d fill in the blank space in the forms where we were to write down what our ambitions were, and mine would invariably be TEACHER. But after my dad’s health had deteriorated due to school pressure and other factors, I changed my mind about being a school teacher. I didn’t want to go down that stressful path of not having full control of school teaching and school life! So I chose the next best thing: PIANO TEACHER!

But for the past 2 weeks, on 2 Thursday and Friday afternoons, I had a whole new experience of teaching 2 groups of school-going kids under a project called Little Yellow Flower. It was at a rented 3-storey townhouse in OUG – a guarded residential community. Upon entering the warm abode with polished parquet floor, the aroma of spicy red curry pervaded the air and I was immediately greeted by happy, smiling kids who were obviously enjoying their fragrant curry rice lunch! After we had exchanged greetings, I was led upstairs to the classroom where I was to teach English to the children there. The first class consisted of children aged 6-10 and the second class had older students between 11-15. I had rarely taught such a big group of children in a classroom setting. So when my attempt at having them gather just outside the classroom for a story-telling session ended up disastrously with the hyperactive boys utilising the big space kungfu kicking one another, with one of them landing on a boy’s face, I decided to herd them back into the more confined space of the classroom and we remained there somewhat more peacefully for the rest of the sessions.

The children in this program are given home cooked lunch from Monday to Friday, and after lunch, they are taught English by a teacher who works with a carefully planned program for the children. I was there to replace the teacher who is away for 2 weeks to work on a local theatre project. The children took to me warmly and kindly and made me feel at ease immediately! I was to use my discretion in using the lesson plans and free to innovate in anyhow I liked. Sounded good to me 🙂

I brought story books for the kids to read in class while I busied myself with lesson preparations. Read them stories related to the topics of House and Family, gave them written exercises to do for vocabulary and spelling (which they love!), encouraged them to use their creativity when selecting words to fill the blanks in to make their stories funny, and for my last session with them on Friday, I taught them a song (The More We Get Together) that was about friendship and expanding one’s family circle to include others as well. “In Malaysia we are one big family, helping one another!”

And from what some of them had written in their books that day, I think my message went through somewhat successfully 🙂
















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