Recently, Repubblica.it reported Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech of last year, with the title Siate curiosi siate folli. It’s a slight variation from the original English “Stay hungry, stay foolish“, but in a way, curiosity is a state of hunger, isn’t it.
What a wonderful way to close this year, I thought. So after reading the article (Jobs’ speech translated in Italian) I wanted to find the original. I found the audio recording here, and the full text is also here. Then I started looking for the Spanish version, which I found easily, together with a great video from YouTube, which also gave me an idea of the man’s tone of voice etc. What I loved most of the Spanish translation is the slogan: Manteneos hambrientos, manteneos alocados.
So, Jobs actually allowed me to notice a few things he said, and to find them in multiple languages, in a matter of minutes. Also, he reminded me of some thoughts I used to have.
I found myself in a complete agreemet with Jobs’ ideas. He said he never graduated (he actually fled college!), and after abandoning official studies, he began to study (!) typography, which taught him the art of spacing, letters, serifs and calligraphy. He found that useful quite some time later, when giving his Macintosh the capability to manage typographic fonts. The importance of typography was paramount to his preparation! This is interesting to us all who are beginning to change the way we teach.
I loved the way he introduced his speech: stating he would only talk about three stories of his life. That was one of the three. Another story that impressed me (and which is certainly connected to the first), is his encounter with death, after being diagnosed a rare cancer.
“If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” He cited in the speech. A chilling phrase, yet true and moving: I cannot really say I understood it for long. So, I was reading this just after deciding I had spent too long doing things the same way, and that in a mysterious way, some part of myself was escaping me. Next semester I’m ready to change my courses and perhaps for the first time, I am challenging the whole way I interpret the concept of class, teaching, and learning, and also, of living. Thanks, Jobs. This can be a serious thing to remind when the new year will start a few days from now. Stay hungry, stay foolish. Manteneos hambrientos, manteneos alocados. Siate affamati, siate folli. I’ll tell my students.