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Steve Jobs, Modern Day Renaissance Man?

-by Margaret Leland, Grade 8 Humanities Teacher

I found it curious the day after Steve Jobs died that I overheard some of the students wondering who the image on our Apple start page was and, moreover, that they didn’t take the time to investigate. After all, that’s what we do at CSS. I then thought that I would have my Humanities students link their inquiry into the Renaissance through delving into the life of Steve Jobs. The purpose would be to argue whether or not they considered Steve Jobs to be a modern day ‘Renaissance Man’.

What I found during their research and following the presentations, that to me was evidence of very engaged learning, was that the arguments for or against spilled out into the hallways and were heard over the lunch tables with very heated opinions based on well researched information.

Assignment Overview:


Many students have grown up with the current Apple technology and have little if any knowledge of the history, impact and extent of the influence of Steve Jobs, on their lives and on millions around the world, changing the very nature of their worldview.

Students will research whether or not our culture was prime for the changes that Steve Jobs brought into our lives with a view as to how ready our world was for those changes vis-à-vis the state of the culture prior to and during the Digital Age.

Student Task

In your research and presentations, you will address which, if any, of the innovations of Steve Jobs, were met in the areas of commerce and trade, communication, the art of our tools, education, entertainment, and or science and technology. You will examine how Steve Jobs education and varied skill set could be used to argue that he was in fact a modern day equivalent of the Renaissance Man.

Debate Opening Arguments

Student Feedback

I thought that this assignment was a good chance for us to research someone who had given us the technology in the school. This was a change from the usual do a biography on an "important" person; it gave us the chance to give our opinion on if he was important or if we thought that he was just another person who had all the luck to be rich and famous. The project was also important to our inquiry learning. Humanities doesn't always give us the chance to do inquiry based learning, sometimes its Traditional Learning and with history that situation can happen a lot. The Steve Jobs assignment gave us the opportunity to use our Renaissance knowledge and compare it to today’s society. …was a good learning experience.
-Hailey 8.2

The Steve Jobs Debate was an excellent assignment, except for the fact that the negative side was much harder than the positive. I prefer that the both sides of the debate are at the same level of difficulty.
-Sureiya 8.2

1 comment:

Garry McKinnon said...

Margaret, Steve Jobs a modern day Renaissance man?-what a great question to explore. I enjoyed the video clip of the students and I was impressed with their informed comments as they debated the question. I know that you and your students were actively and authentically engaged in this most worthwhile learning experience. Garry McKinnon

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