Monday, July 6, 2015

I'd do this job for free.

Ron Avitzur had been working on a project to develop a graphing calculator destined for the latest PowerPC, set to be released in 1994.  Sadly, Avitzur's employment with Apple was terminated in August, 1993, when his supervisor released him from employment and asked him to submit his final invoice for the project.

Avitzur never submitted that invoice, thereby keeping his credentials active, and continued to surreptitiously move about Apple headquarters, working on the project that he knew he could make work -- if he just had more time.

"I was frustrated by all the wasted effort, so I decided to uncancel my small part of the project. I had been paid to do a job, and I wanted to finish it. My electronic badge still opened Apple's doors, so I just kept showing up," states Avitzur online.
 Honestly, the story is so unreal, that it reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer makes himself invaluable to a company, showing up faithfully, never having been officially hired.  Avitzur's story is incredible -- especially when you realize that you've probably been using his program on a computer sometime in the last 20 years or so.  Because not only did he, and his accomplices, manage to write the program, they also managed to have it installed on twenty million computers, even though it never officially existed.  There's a great Google Tech Talk, where he narrates his history.

Avitzur explains the end of the relationship with Apple:  "On March 11, 1994, the front page of the Times business section contained an article on the alliance among Apple, IBM, and Motorola, picturing Greg and me in my front yard with a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Someone I knew in Apple Public Relations was livid. I had asked if she wanted to send someone for the interview, but she had said that engineers are not allowed to talk with the press. It's hard to enforce that kind of thing with people who can't be fired. It was positive press for Apple, though, and our parents were pleased."

I can't believe they pay me....

Every teacher has a day that seems so incredibly rewarding and amazing that he or she goes home wondering how long it will be before the district finds out that they are issuing a paycheck to someone who is so in love with his or her job that he or she would actually do the job for free.

And then there's a day that's the day from heck, erasing all chances of a volunteer employment status, clearly illustrating the need for financial bribery to keep teachers in classrooms.  Avitzur certainly had purely intrinsic motivation spurring him to success -- especially when it became clear that subversive activities were necessary for him to complete the project that existed only in his head.

So where is that sort of motivation learned?  How do we, as teachers, encourage that sense of longing and responsibility that spurs students on -- to a point of obsession?

I'm pondering this, and looking for feedback.  What intrinsically motivates you?  Please leave a comment below.  (It's research.  Really.)

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