Debate Magazine

Make Stuff (from the Archives)

By Stevemiranda

Last winter, a group of PSCS students took a field trip to a local high-tech company, to meet some of their engineers and get a look inside a leading edge company. It was awesome. The corporate campus was beautiful and it seemed like an ideal place to work.

During the Q&A session near the end of their visit, one of the students asked, “How do I put myself in position to someday work here?”

There was a pause, until one of the engineers spoke up. “You gotta make stuff,” he said.

Make stuff.

He didn’t say, “Get a master’s degree” or “Get good grades” or “Read a million books.” Don’t get me wrong, advanced degrees, superior GPAs, and being well read are very useful—but those things by themselves don’t inspire people. What can you do? Or, more accurately, what have you done?

Marketing guru Seth Godin calls this “shipping.” Sure, you have a great idea for a software application. But until you ship the product to your customers, it has zero impact.

At PSCS, we call it “turning passion into achievement.” If you love playing the piano, share it with your community by putting on a performance. If you love political science, get involved in a ballot initiative campaign. Better yet, identify a problem in your city, propose a solution, and start a ballot initiative campaign.

I think the future of education is going to be about helping kids learn how to ship, helping them turn passion into achievement. It’s going to be about helping kids learn to make stuff. The digital revolution has lowered the barriers to entry so that now almost anyone start a blog, make a movie, become an activist that makes an impact, produce an album, or become an entrepreneur. No more excuses.

And if anyone can do it, that means kids can do it, too. They just might need some extra support getting started. We’ve got an entire generation of kids who are ready to make their mark in the world, and we’ve got them sitting at desks filling out worksheets.

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