Walk onto the Googleplex, the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California, and you can't help but feel inspired. The D39C team visited on Monday, October 14 as part of our #edjourney to visit some business and schools in the Bay Area. During our time we were able to have lunch and take a tour to experience what Google is all about. It is clear from our short visit that Google is a fun place to work where they take care of the whole person, trust their employees, and value each other’s expertise.
From the artistic, interactive art and creative workspaces to the ball pit conference areas, Google bikes, and the famous Google slides, the Googleplex is a FUN place to be. It has such a playful atmosphere that invites creativity and inspiration. Googlers have a smile on their face and they value opportunities to work and collaborate in a lighthearted environment.
You would think schools working with children would have this fun type of atmosphere, yet when you walk through typical schools they all look the same. Classrooms filled with rows of desks and decorations that all look the same on the bulletin boards. Students have to walk quietly in lines down the hallways. Bells direct students and teachers from class to class. Unengaged students struggling through textbooks and endless worksheets. Where is the FUN in this? How are educators keeping the natural curiosity, creativity, and FUN in learning? Learning is fun and school should be a place that fosters the culture that learning is all around us and is FUN.
TAKING CARE OF THE WHOLE PERSON
After walking around the complex and seeing the variety of amenities, it was clear that Google takes into consideration the whole person. They provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as mini kitchens always full of snacks, drinks, and coffee throughout their buildings. The main dining facilities have every variety of food you could imagine including make your own sodas. All the food is FREE!
Besides food there are massage rooms, napping pods, an endless swimming pool, fitness center, beach volleyball court, mobile dentists, and mobile car services. They also have a medical facility on campus for flu shots and minor medical needs. The Googleplex really felt like a complex that you never had to leave.
In education you will often hear the phrase “taking care of the whole child” or “creating well rounded children”, yet schools limit with constraints and the need to cover or deliver curriculum. Are we really nurturing the whole child by only concentrating on what academic level they are on or what difficulties they are having? Are we offering opportunities for students to find and explore their passions?
Google trusts its employees. Trust was one of the first words that came to mind as we looked around and saw people in impromptu, creative work spaces working individually or in small groups. There are no bosses micromanaging employees’ time. Supervisors trust them to work and meet their project deadlines. They have a system in place where employees submit their project goal ideas for approval and are accountable for their work streams. The feeling of trust is evident in the fact that one key card gives employees access to every Google building in the world. With 40,000 employees and growing significantly, Google still has such high levels of trust in its employees.
Imagine if national and state educational decision makers had as much trust in its teachers as Google has in its employees. Imagine district employees trusting teachers and teachers trusting students. It sounds silly, but the trust often isn't there. Teachers are given standards and textbooks with scripted lesson plans. Some districts strictly require their teachers to follow exact plans where you can walk out of a room and into another and miss nothing in a lesson. Teachers are doing the same things with students. They are not trusting students. They are not trusting that students can be passionate about learning and be an integral part of monitoring and assessing their learning. How would education change if we had more trust in each other?
When I asked a Googler what he like most about working at Google he took a moment to think and responded, "the expertise we have here in Google." He proceeded to name some talented colleagues that work at Google and how they are able to collaborate and use each other's expertise. Googlers are encouraged to search out people and connect with them to assist in their projects. They join up to use each other’s expertise to create something better than they could create on their own. Their playful, physical environment also promotes collaboration between employees.
If working in the real world is about connections and collaborating, then why do we make so much of school “sit, get, and do by yourself?’ A businessman once shared this thought with me. “In school it was called cheating. In the real world it’s called masterminding.” When students join together and use each other’s “super powers” great learning will be the result. How can we change schools so students have more opportunities to explore content and produce work as a team using other’s expertise? The author of “The Multiplier Effect” shares that “students work hard in school always proving they are smart. Once in the real world they continue to try to prove they are smart. This can make them unsuccessful. Instead, we need students to know they are smart and then know how to find other’s expertises.”
This trip to the Googleplex was exciting and inspiring for the Design39Campus team. Thank you to Google and to Paul Carff for taking the time to welcome us and give us a tour of the complex. This experience validated a lot of the work we have started with D39C as well as spur some other thoughts to help our school become successful.
Below is a Twitter Recap of the tweets from our team during the tour of the Googleplex.
Another takeaway from visits to Google & Box- It's time to change the way we name classrooms.
Google treats their people well & amazing things happen! Schools, too?
Google employee's face lite up when we shared kids as young as kindergarten will learn coding
If no one is upset with the changes you are making, you are not pushing far enough!
Great visit with Google! Amazing what's created when people aren't treated like widgets.
Trust is key! Trust people to have great ideas and to get it done. Teach kids how to manage projects.
Google as a company= Trust, innovation, collaboration, expertise, fun, creative, inspiring. Need to make school feel this way.
Bikes, lounges, slides, food, doctors, ball pit conferences, bike meetings,... Google=FUN Schools need more FUN!
Google's environment is collaborative, creative, and inspiring. Food is all free and so much variety.