Notes and Reflections by feoMike

its never about technology

its been eating at me. the constant tech news. the constant headlines about failed government IT contracting. the constant twitter feed of people telling each other what went wrong; how they know the answer. the constant emails from colleagues with email links to more news articles with more talking heads selling their answer. more hill hearings. all of this conversation misses the mark about what really matters. it is never about technology; it is always about being human.

never has this mantra, its never about technology, rang more true to me than this week. professionally this week had a confluence of wonderful achievements. i came racing home friday proud to tell my wife of the wonderful technology we were about to release how we were going to change lives. we were going to implement new technology focused on every mobile consumer in the US. we were going to release data, maps and visuals that told everyone the story. we were going to make sure every school has killer high speed broadband to allow all kids in the US have access to everything. oh yea us technology giants.

then my wife hit me with her week. she is a high school teacher. while i glowed with how our work was going to make her students successful, she told me the story of the kid she feeds every day. i did a double take. thats right feeds. my wife has a student who, while he qualifies for free and reduced meals at school, perhaps his only opportunity for a decent daily meal, his parents don’t fill out the forms and he comes to school hungry. his hunger affects the rest of the class, because he is worse than that snickers commercial where the friend turns into an angry joe pesci when he is hungry. so she feeds him. she feeds him every day.

then she told me about a student who feels uncomfortable by the looks from a janitor. a young girl who comes to a teacher she trusts because she doesn’t know who else to turn to. nothing has every happened, but its the gut sense that there is something wrong, that the person in question isn’t all right and that something might happen. so my wife comforted her and took her to the office and filled out the form for these kinds of things. yes there is a form. not only is it 2013 and women and young girls feel uncomfortable by creeps, but it still happens in our schools and there is a form for that.

then she told me about the new friend who has decided after 17 years in one profession, that she wants to try teaching, so she came and observed my wife in the classroom. my wife told her what the most important thing about becoming a successful teacher is. it went something like this:

    "it isn't classroom management. i guarantee you you can lead the largest corporation to record profits, or command platoons of people with the highest efficiency, and still fail in the classroom.  
  its not command of subject matter.  you can have a phd in your area, be published again and again, and you can still fail as a teacher.  
    its not, and never will be command of technology.  the internet, the promethium board, ability to make video's or powerpoint won't save you or make you succeed.  
    none of these.  you succeed as a teacher when you love these kids.  you have to love these kids.  you have to see their success and their failures and love being with their crazy mis-spellings, and warped sense of humor, and fear of the unknown, and arrogance of youth and indeed hunger. when you love where they are, they will listen and learn from you."

success as a teacher is the desire to love the kids. this basic tenet, to like other people, translates to us all. we have to like people. we have to stop the crazy way we put everyone else down, and say how we know the answer and focus on us winning.

no it is never about technology, and always about people. we have to love people. i am in awe of my wife. she is more successful in her career than i likely will ever be. she makes kids get hamlet, and camus. she makes them understand parallel sentence structure and verb tense. she makes them ease fear of strangers, and feel less hungry. she makes those who want to join a profession, that we seem to care less about than making sure the class has broadband, understand what it takes to be successful. she loves the kids. in my mind she walks on water. i imagine, her students think more of her than that.

i tell you now, it is never about technology, it is always about being human. i am pretty sure we can all learn from this one. so tell me, what do you make?