Apple CEO Tim Cook has been touring classrooms in the US, helping children get to grips with the latest Apple devices. But this isn’t part of the latest market research; it’s all part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project on which Apple has partnered with the White House. ConnectED aims to equip up to 99% of schools/students in the US with cutting-edge technology. And it’s off to a good start; 114 schools in 29 states are starting the new school year with brand new computers and tablets.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without a great public education,” Cook tells ABC’s Good Morning America during one such visit to a school in his home state of Alabama. He strongly believes that everyone has the right to an education, but that schools and teachers don’t always have the resources to keep up with the rapidly evolving student; “Kids today, they’re born into a digital world. But too many kids, when it comes time for the 8 o’clock bell to ring, go to an analogue world. It’s not engaging.”
For Cook, this isn’t just about helping kids with their algebra homework; he wants to use technology to ensure that “education is something they desire.” He sees it as a vital component in building a more equal future, especially in Silicon Valley. “I think technology in general has not done a great job of establishing role models,” he says. “That’s changing, that’s critically important.”
Cook echoes others who have said that diversity is simply good business, and in the case of the technology industry, can actually lead to better products. “From one point of view, it’s just and right,” he says, “but even if people don’t accept that, my fundamental belief, and I think we can prove this, is that inclusion and diversity inspire innovation… Twenty years in the future, the best companies in this land will be the most diverse. It’s a world I dream of.”
When asked if there is any advice he can offer the young people whose worlds are about to open up thanks to the efforts of ConnectED, Cook has just three words: “Explore, discover, create.”