Our schools are terribly in need of a new operating system.
We are working with the equivalent of a DOS command line interface and we need the equivalent of Mac OS. We need a school operating system that will open the power of school to the individual in the same way the personal computer and graphical user interface opened the power of the computer to the individual.
Bill Gates, who has become very active in educational reform, is pushing an approach essentially built around getting students to be more efficient users of DOS. When you led the development of the Mac you took a radically different approach that overturned the existing computer paradigm and opened up vast new realms of creativity and productivity. We could use your support doing something similar with schools. We need help to fund a major research effort to design and build a new school OS.
We need to rethink everything about schools with a research and development team like that which developed the graphical user interface at Xerox PARC. This team would include the best and brightest educators and computer engineers out there. The team at Xerox PARC was charged with completely rethinking the computer given new and projected developments in technology. This team would be charged with completely rethinking school in light of all the new opportunities make possible by the developments in information technology that were birthed at PARC and brought to market at Apple.
This team should be given free reign to experiment and push the envelope as far and fast as possible. Everything they produce should be open source and freely available to all.
You approved and funded the powerful and controversial 1984 ad in the early days of the Mac. The high stakes testing and centralized control being advocated by Bill Gates, and others sharing his philosophy, threaten to turn our public schools into environments like that portrayed in the ad. There are many educators fighting for a more humane, democratic and personal approach to education but we lack the tremendous financial resources that Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, the Koch brothers and other billionaires are using to push their DOS based approach.
Steve, you are unique in having repeatedly opened up the power of computers by leading the development of revolutionary new approaches to how people interact with information technology. There is no one in the world better positioned to help lead the development of revolutionary new approaches to school that will empower students.
I hope you will consider taking up this challenge.
PS More thoughts on schools and their operating systems here.