In The Plex

I picked up a copy of In The Plex:  How google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.  We hear so much about how Google is changing the world, I figured there has to be something to learn from their experiences.  I am only about halfway through it (and to be honest I haven’t read everything as it tends to get too technical for what I am looking for), but there are number of quotes that I wanted to share, along with a couple of ideas of my own.

We are focused on users.  If we make them happy, we will have revenues.  We focus so much on test prep, but if we provide more meaningful coursework for the students, they will work harder to learn the material.  The standardized test scores will take care of themselves.

A healthy disregard for the impossible.

The only true failure was not attempting the audacious.

If we are not a lot better next year, we will already be forgotten.

Their hires would show traits of hardcore wizardry, user focus and starry eyed idealism.  I think this is a great philosophy to use when hiring new teachers.

Discipline must come through liberty.

Nothing a teacher does should destroy a child’s creative innocence.

Our core values should be manifested in our work environment.

Anyone hired…should be capable of engaging him in a fascinating discussion should he be stuck at an airport with employee.

Can you imagine sitting in an interview and the principal turns to you and asks “Do you have a healthy disregard for the impossible?  We are only looking for educators who view teaching as a form of wizardry.”  I guarantee if asked this you would look at the principal like he/she was nuts, thank him/her for the interview and quickly run to your car.

But is it too much to ask that teachers have starry-eyed idealism?  Or be interesting enough to hold up their end of a conversation about almost any topic?

One of the problems that so many of us run into is making our “crazy” ideas (or our Googliness) work within the traditional system.  Google was able to set up their ideals so easily because they were a start-up.  In fact, many of their employees left larger companies like Microsoft and Apple for the, at the time, smaller Google because of it radical philosophy (others did the reverse move for the opposite reason).  Would the Google founders have been successful if they had instituted these radical ideas in an already established environment?

When you take educational administration classes, they tell you not to make major changes for 6 months to a year.  First you must sit back, evaluate the system, and gain the trust of the staff.  But a year is a REALLY long period of time.  What steps should a new administrator have to take in order to bring some of these ideas to fruition?  Is it too much for a school/staff/student body to handle these changes right from the start of school?



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