What schools can learn from Apple

I’ve written before about the improvement delusion that exists in education and why our relentless focus on improving the current model is not taking us anywhere.

That model was designed in an age where information was static, schools were insular and technology companies produced technology. We know that information is no longer static, schools are accessible and technology companies like Apple are producing lifestyle products.

As I often tell teachers and leaders, Apple is a company that transformed its whole business model in 2000. They wanted to do more than just produce products, they wanted to enrich people’s lives. Can we as teachers and leaders not learn something here?

Fast Company recently interviewed Apple CEO, Tim Cook and highlighted the parts of the conversation where if you substituted a word or two, Tim Cook could have been talking about leading a transformed school. I encourage you to read the full interview and to think about Tim’s responses in the context of schooling. Here’s just a few examples where the education frame of reference is in parentheses.

  • When responding to the comment that the iPhone wasn’t an immediate hit, Cook says they just had to have faith that the strategy would lead to results (learning gains) and that requires not taking your eyes off what really matters (transforming the lives of students).
  • As CEO (school leader), Cook sees one of his main roles as minimising the distractors from the people (teachers) who are doing the work. That means doing very few things and making sure they are focussed on the things that matters (effective learning and teaching).
  • What drives Apple (this school) to wow consumers (students) is to create products (learning experiences and strategies) that give people (students) ‘the ability to do things they couldn’t do before’.
  • Customers (students) are jewels. I care deeply about what users (students, teachers, parents) think. Our products (pedagogies) are all about the people who use them.
  • We’re a group of people (educators) who are trying to change the world (student lives) for the better. We take our values seriously and we want to make sure all of our products (schools) reflect those values.
  • We make sure that we treat all the people in our supply chain (learning community) well. We have incredible diversity and it’s diversity that yields products (schools) like these.
  • We all have the same common purpose (transforming schooling)…that’s the thing that joins us all together….that goal that drives everybody (teachers and leaders) to keep working ungodly hours and trying to do the best work of our lives.

Next time you use your iPhone, iPad or Macbook (if you own one), ask yourself whether these would have been developed if Apple was content with the status quo or overly focussed on results instead of achievements. Apple is the most innovative company in the world because they have put the user at the centre of the design process. What can we learn…..






One thought on “What schools can learn from Apple

  1. Unfortunately, there is still a great divide between students who can fly with these new opportunities and those who are struggling to make the most of them due to their lack of literacy skills or their resistance to becoming part of something bigger than themselves.

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