Demystifying STEAM, Part II

I had the opportunity to “demystify the STEAM program” to parents this evening at a Home & School event. Like the kid who gets bullied for his lunch money then thinks of the perfect comeback line as soon as he returns home at the end of the day, I quickly built a new list of the things I meant to say as soon as I sat down. Is it too late to write them down here?  Continue reading

Let’s write a cookbook

The tech world is famous for famous for sharing trade secrets. In an industry fueled by patents and intellectual property, it’s remarkable to watch the openness, sharing, and volunteering that happens too: look at the open source movement, Wikipedia, civic hackathons, etc. A few years ago one of my favorite industry leaders pointed out in a blog post that the tech community isn’t the only group that celebrates the masters who give away their secrets:

How does a chef break big and become a household name? One of the best ways is to release a cookbook or have a big cooking show on TV.

Mario Batali, Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Rick Bayless, etc. You probably know these chefs better than you know the chef of one of your favorite restaurants down the street.

These chefs give away their recipes, their secrets. They say “This is how I do it and you can do it too. Don’t worry, it’s not hard, just follow along.”

The more they give, the better off they are. The more they open up, the better off they are. The more they let you inside their kitchen the better off they are. These chefs have built empires by making their knowledge available to the public. They are astute business people.

Let’s give it away for free

Next Friday my friend/ mentor/ colleague Keith will be visiting a competitor school to share some of the secrets of the S.T.E.A.M. program we started this year. Giving away trade secrets is supposed to be a scary thing, but I think it’s great. I want him to share with more competitor schools in the area, and then I want to scale it up: I wish our whole faculty could give away the “cookbooks” of what makes our classrooms so special.

Why? Because free is a new business model of its own and because I believe that we have an ace up our sleeves too: even if competitor schools learn our recipes and follow the instructions, they will never get our secret sauce.  Continue reading