Those of you in the US might remember a magazine that all dentists seemed to have in their waiting rooms: Highlights for Children. A popular feature of this was the Goofus and Gallant cartoon where two boys were used to illustrate basic good behavior ("At the department store, Goofus runs on the escalator" while "Gallant stands still on the escalator as it goes up to the second floor." - see the cartoon).
One of the things I sometimes do during keynotes is engage the audience by pondering who today's "Gallants" might be. I like to nominate Matt Mullenweg (of Wordpress) and Blake Ross (Firefox), both apparently nice guys and in their very early 20s. The past few days, the blogs and media have been abuzz with another: Jawed Karim. Mr. Karim is the third member of the YouTube team celebrating their company's aquisition for $1.65 Billion. What's really nice about Mr. Karim - from a teacher's perspective - is that after doing the part of the Tech start-up process that he enjoys, he opted not to work for YouTube, but to pursue a Masters degree at Stanford University. Mr. Karim describes himself as:
a nerd who gets excited about learning."Good on him," as we say down here in Australia. The son of a Bangladeshi father and German mother, Karim displays the quiet confidence and unshakeable values that make a true Gallant.
As technology empowers learners, those who are self-motivated can achieve extraordinary dreams. One thing that most Gallants of 2006 have in common is that they take time out from their formal schooling to pursue these dreams. Isn't that interesting... I suggest that the opting out of formal education has more to do with assembly line learning approaches than it does with technologically impoverished learning environments. What do you think?