I’ve been reading up an awful lot on the concept of innovation, especially in regards to its relation to the educational environment. One of the individuals that I have been reading the most is a personal hero of mine: Steve Wozniak – aka “Woz”. Yes, I use Apple products quite a bit — but I’m not the Apple fanboy that some might assume me to be. I’m also a prolific user of Linux and Windows 7 too. I’m a firm believer that each particular desktop operating system is geared towards a very specific segment of the computer user populace…but I’m diverging from the topic.
One of the things that I’ve noticed in teaching college classes is the seeming lack of understanding by the students towards the concepts of innovation. Where individuals such as Woz, Bill Gates, Steve Dompier, and many others, see opportunity and a way to bend technology to their whim – the students that I have seen come through the classroom seem more to be slaves to these technologies. Many of my students spend a lot of their time — even in the classroom — tied to their smartphones. Essentially, this isn’t bad, as it provides lines of communication that simply were not in existence when I was their age. Sure, I communicated with people in other places around the United States and around the world – but I did so with a five to seven day lag in communication through Bulletin Board Services (BBSs). In between, I had plenty of time to work with the technologies I had in front of me – learning how to make it work for me, instead of the other way around. Trying to innovate new ways in which the technology could accomplish some of the more mundane tasks associated with my day.
The director of the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley” made the following statement:
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the true revolutionaries of our time. Not the students who occupied the dean’s office in the late ’60s. Not the anti-war marchers who were determined to overthrow the establishment. Jobs and Gates are the ones who changed the way the world thinks, acts and communicates.
Its a fairly interesting concept. These guys were revolutionaries because they chose to think about integrating technologies in ways that were only imagined in such seminal concepts put forth in Science Fiction novels. Over time, their innovations have brought us to where we are now. However, instead of continually challenging the envelope and building further on these innovative concepts – it sometimes feels like students have handed over their thinking to the computer. They don’t seem to see the challenge of continued innovation, and are instead seduced by the perspective of becoming slaves to the technology innovations. In essence, handing over their leashes to the central processors. This is probably not true in most cases, but it certainly has felt that way for me in teaching my classes. Granted, my student populace is not – for the most part – technology-oriented in their fields of study. Their interests don’t particular lay in the world of development, but rather within the service-oriented industries.
So – in a blog that is particularly geared toward spiritual and religious thought – why am I talking about innovation? Because innovation, in my mind, is about so much more than just technological development. Its also about spiritual development. A few days back, I happened to sit back and listen to some of my podcasts from my show’s first two years. I was very much a different Pagan during this time frame. My focus during that time frame seemed to be more about proclaiming myself as a Pagan than it was about developing who I was spiritually. In retrospect, I have been doing a lot more of this in the early twenty-some-odd years of being a Pagan than I have in the last three years. When I started out in Wicca, it never really gelled in my life. Sure, it provided some correlation to who I was and where I was trying to get to – but it never was an appropriate fit. Too many rituals, too much emphasis on magick — not enough emphasis on the trees and Environment. But it provided me a base for understanding my relationship with [$entity] – and that base allowed me to find easier ways to relate the various facets that could be applied within so many different patterns. When I finally stepped on to the path of Druidry, that base allowed me to see the far-reaching implications of how I could innovate my own Spirituality.
…and that brings me to where I am now. My life has changed a lot. I’m a much different Pagan than I was three years ago. I’m a much different person than I was three years ago. Every single day serves as my ritual – a little different than the previous one, but appropriate to the pattern of my life. I’ve evaluated a lot of other things in my life, which I’ve either restructured (such as my view on my own health needs) or completely removed (such as constantly paying attention to the wild machinations of the American political scene). Instead, I’ve focused on becoming who I am – and what I am meant to become. I’ve always been reticent about being a Teacher — but the reality of it is that this is exactly where I belong. In being a Teacher, I’ve become a far better Student than I ever was before.