Well, Maybe Steve Jobs Doesn't Know Everything

Illustration for article titled Well, Maybe Steve Jobs Doesn't Know Everything

Not content with simply railing on Windows Vista, a few days ago his Jobsness blasted teachers' unions as the major cause of education problems in this country, saying that "what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way."


Mickey Kaus over at Slate picked up on the blurb and wryly observed that:

Jobs might have added "no amount of well-meaning educational donations from the Gates Foundation would improve public schools nearly as much as allowing principals to fire bad teachers."

Leander Kahney over at Cult of Mac also chimed in:

Jobs knows a lot about schools; he's been selling computers to them for more than 30 years. But don't you love it when a billionaire who sends his own kids to private school applies half-baked business platitudes to complex problems like schools? I'm surprised Jobs didn't suggest we outsource education to the same nonunion Chinese factories that build his iPods.

Saucy bite there at the end, no? I don't necessarily think that selling equipment to schools gives you an inherent knowledge about the way the education system works—which ultimately seems to be Kahney's point. There's a lot more behind education problems than teachers' unions.

What's interesting about this incident (and reaction to it) is that it pokes a little hole in the mythos that Jobs has managed to craft for himself over the last couple of years—that unerring, uncanny intuition about the way the world works, the secret sauce in the Apple recipe, looks a little less uncanny, less scarily perceptive. To some, the man has emerged from behind the myth, at least for a day.


Steve Jobs vs. Teachers' Unions [kausfiles]
Steve Jobs, Proud to Be Nonunion [Cult of Mac]

RE: Conservative opinions, by Rob Port, here.



matt buchanan

The claim inherent in my post is not that unions are not problems (which they may or may not be, it's irrelevant to what I was saying) it's that the problems with the educational system go above and beyond teachers' unions—they are not the greatest source of problems in the education system today. I (mistakenly) assumed that this was, by and large, the consensus.

The larger claim resting upon this inherent one—that what Jobs said was out of touch, and therefore not wholly divine in his intuitions—was that such a display somewhat tarnished the mythical, nearly infallible image he's managed to craft over the last couple of years.

I didn't actually intend to foment a large discussion on the education system or unions, though it was incredibly interesting to see Giz readers' thoughts on something other than tech, and if nothing else, it got everyone thinking.