a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

What Steve read…

Steve Jobs

Once again the other day I found myself thinking of David Coleman and the infamous “Common Core” educational standards currently causing (not enough) controversy in the USA.

(For those of you who don’t know what “Common Core” is, just go to this link. Check this out too. Those of you in the rest of the world can be glad you live in the rest of the world.)

Basically, as I’ve talked about before, Mr. Coleman wants American children sharpening their reading skills with more “practical” material such as non-fictional informational texts. He says, “Forgive me for saying this so bluntly. The only problem with [personal narrative] writing is, as you grow up in this world, you realize people really don’t give a[expletive] about what you feel or what you think.”

There’s only so much time to turn our children into good, obedient automaton, and reading thick books from long-dead coots is wasting their and our time.

So I was surprised the other day to stumble on the link about the books that inspired Steve Jobs. You know, the guy who was probably the greatest entrepreneur and vision in America, or at least in tech.

Since Mr. Coleman wants our kids to be successful like Mr. Jobs, I wonder why he isn’t touting these titles. I mean, if you want to win medals like Michael Phelps, you’re supposed to eat your Wheaties, right? That’s how these people think, right?

Now, Mr. Jobs’ list is fascinating for its eclectic quality. There’s everything from hippie poems to old-school literature to business books. Because Mr. Jobs was well-balanced. He knew the importance both of ROE and calligraphic fonts. He understood shipping schedules as well as the necessity of having something aesthetically gorgeous to ship. He had his feet on the ground but his head high in the sky.

So it seems to me a list of books Mr. Jobs like to read would be more valuable to today’s tykes than the sort of stuff Common Core is selecting.

But it gets more puzzling than that, and that mystery is what prompted this post.

Immediately after the Jobs list, there’s a list of Bill Gates’ favorite books! Now, the interesting thing about that is Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are some of the chief supporters behind Mr. Coleman’s Core Standards. They’re supporting—with their money—Mr. Coleman’s program that thinks Yeats and Yates are a waste of time.

Something doesn’t compute. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Mr. Gates to make sure today’s children read the books that put him where he is?

What does compute is the fact that these books—both Gates’ and Jobs’—are excellent. The ones I’m familiar with, anyway. The rest look very intriguing and I am looking forward to reading them.

I only wish Mr. Coleman would, too.

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