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Love, Fear, and Technology
Submitted by skastrul on 2012-08-10T09:37:52
Recently we had the pleasure of having Adrian R. Gardner, the CIO of NASA, over for high tea, which was quite enjoyable. I was invited to a reception in his honor later that day. Adrian made some wonderful and inspiring remarks about the future of technology and technology education.
He talked about how other countries are often slashing their R&D budgets and investing in hacking. This was particularly eye opening for me. This made me think: “Are we afraid of what’s coming next, or are we inspired and motivated by possibilities?”
Adrian’s remarks remind me of a time when I was lucky enough to be invited into a panel interview where we assess the candidates for i.c.stars. We always ask candidates, “Can you define love and fear?” One candidate had a brilliant definition for fear. He said, “Fear is the killer of dreams; it is apathy. This is absolutely true. The best way to kill dreams is with fear. If we’re encouraging people to hack into, take from, steal from, borrow from, use somebody else’s IP, aren’t we also killing dreams? Aren’t we crushing creativity? Aren’t we also crushing the idea of innovation and building something new? The interesting part is, when it came time to defining love, this candidate could not do it. In fact the first thing he said was, “You cannot define love.”
I think the real lack of innovation in technology education and in our world today is about a lack of passion. It is directly related to the inability to define what love is, what we’re passionate about, and what we truly want to build. It’s funny because my background is in art. I grew up as an artist, and the arts saved my life. I went to school for art and became a teacher because I was a terrible waiter. We learn the creative process in art school. We learn to acknowledge and fortify dreams. As soon as you can do that, you put it out there in the world. But, part of that culture is that you would never steal or use somebody else’s stuff, and that speaks to your integrity. Then as I became a teacher, it was reinforced even more, as it was called plagiarism. When I entered the wonderful world of technology, everyone talked about reuse. The motto was: don’t start from scratch when somebody has already built it.
I’m figuring out how to navigate this new culture, and it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a shortage of innovation workers. It also doesn’t necessarily surprise me that countries are investing in hacking versus investing in teaching. In some ways it makes sense that as technology leaders we spend more time in fear than we do in love or passion.
Recently we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week where millions of teachers all over the country probably received Starbucks gift cards to honor their service as teachers. While a good jolt of caffeine is good, I believe what’s also needed is the affirmation and the faith that teachers need space to innovate. Let’s bring the arts back into the classroom; let’s give the teachers the freedom to develop relevant ways to bring learning to life and to teach through passion. Kids have passions, but somewhere in the course of school the light goes out and fear sinks in. They fear that they won’t get a job, that they won’t be accepted into college and that they won’t have the money, the grades, or the test scores to be successful.
When we teach from a place of love, inspiration, and passion, we’re bringing an individual into the world. When we are teaching from a place of fear and lack of abundance, we are teaching that there will never be enough, and you have to take whatever you can and try to make the best out of it. We are killing dreams.
How did you learn creativity? And how are you using creativity in your parenting, teaching, management, building, or your programming? Are we really cultivating innovation?