Molly Notes on School, Money, and Mr. Internet: An Ongoing Manifesto

Molly Notes on School, Money, and Mr. Internet: An Ongoing Manifesto

One

School should serve the workings of its geographic locale as much as the chronological future of its students.

Two

"Our history will be what we make it,” as Mr. Murrow said.  Getting the planet right, making a better history, this will require choosing the right tools.

We have the tools we need already.

Three

Schools are tools.  The internet is a tool.  Money is water.

Four

In urban environments, cars are the wrong tools, bikes the right tool.

Cars move rather few people while eating up rather a lot of energy and terrain, noise and danger their obvious by products.  In great numbers they fight each other for space while lending each driver a false sense of power, ownership, and entitlement.

By contrast, in cities, bikes can move many people for little energy while remaining quiet and, especially when in large numbers, safe.  In those greater numbers they also weave the citizenry together, gift each rider health and grace and put a joyful movement from youth into the heart of the day .

100 years from now cities of the planet will be lousy with bikes or the planet will be a lousy place to be a kid.

Five

The metaphor “make it rain,” as used by the kids and the paparazzi-elite means, “the money will fall on me, as if from the sky.”

In nature it does not rain on your yard solo. Your neighbor gets a t least a little wet too. 

The metaphor, in other words, perverts nature just as Silicon Valley and Wall Street, drowning in money now exemplify.  Consider the groundedlessness of those places, the sea of disconnect in which they float, and, yes, the frightening thirst nearby.

Flood and drought, forces sure to trump spirit and foster horror.

Six

Rather than rank them by athletic program, number of nobel prizes won, wealth of graduates at age 45, or gildedness of the campus, schools should be ranked by how much they give away: “Oh yeah, we still have the homeless in Harvard Square, but since the university flushed cash our way, offered up an army of students, and donated 1000 dorm rooms, there’s fewer of us sitting around here. Go Crimson.”

And let Stanford give preference of admission to those who use public transportation, ride a bike, and can grow a green pepper.

Why?

Because above the typical academic day and the world's curricula these schools and their peers helicopter and as choke points of the education industry, as those gold stars every family wants to pin on its future ancestors, Harvard & Stanford sort and determine much of what parents and their progeny value and do.  If they changed their calibrators just a bit, demanded those practices the future needs, they might shrink the queue of SUV’s when it is pick up time at St. Grottlesex or Posh Suburbia High as they foster a democracy in which even the geniuses can tend garden.  

Seven

Money is water, a common resource to share, an essential element in the system.

Schools and teachers should be money flushers.

Whatever the hell an “A” student is, an “A” human being is one who gives away 90% of what they earn and have because it’s not how much money you have but how much flows through you that matters.

Eight

Homework should help people find work they love, make that work viable, and keep money flowing, the equivalent of micro-venture capital or, better still, of a river.

This will make more sense in a school that pays people to stay slightly confused and screw up a lot, which are the essence of curiosity and productivity

Nine

The model for almost everything is small business. The owner is there or nearby. You are as good as your word or your willingness to chip in. If the boss is not around, the #2 has full control.  Mom or pop, the kid they employ, a place that profits the street.

Meanwhile, the design challenge for a future in which some things must be scaled and in which small business should dominate is this: How do you make a Mac Air that is fun for the makers to make?

Ten

Earn no more than 1000 euro/dollars a day, whether in an hour or ten. Earn no less than 100 euro/dollars a day, maybe in an hour, maybe in ten.

Is the maximum and minimum yearly income calculable here off by a factor of 10? You’d need to argue why.  But it is not off by a factor of 100 or 1000.  

Eleven

With one exception, James Bond is a model teacher. He works with total independence, has endless resources at his disposal, a big team at his back and can solve all the problems he faces. But he cares not about the money he wins in the poker game.

Bond solves problems by killing people. A teacher solves them by giving homework.  This distinction is worth keeping.

Twelve

Efficiency is stupid. Effectiveness is the point.  Every TED talk, every coach, every manager of any product or captain of any team speaks of "goals."  Yet the planet upon which we are all now 'connected' has none.

Let's adopt a 100 year plan of better global behavior.  Decent food, safe and cheap ways of getting around, students paid to do work that calls to their soul.

At least put it on a sticky.

If production, distribution, and implementation of weapons can be made less profitable and more tiresome, that would be worth ideating too.


Thirteen

A one hundred year plan to spin the world in a better direction would not have been conceivable in the past, even when the power of capitalism and television and oil suggested the possibility, looked like dials with enough power and reach to finally bring about information for all, justice for all, and a warm home for all.  Sure, these forces generated lots of wins along the way, but their destructive force ripped up the landscape and rewired the mind.  Fear became paramount and education went from making people more interesting to making them cogs in the machine.

And ego became central to the whole enterprise.  The vanity of kings became the vanity of the homeowner and the driver of the car.  And now the looker at the screen is vanity's great triumph, a tragedy because, obviously, the internet is the second wheel of everything.  . 

Fourteen

 . . . Forthcoming  . . .