Let’s be real. Teaching is hard and learning can be difficult. We know because we’re used to rocky roads, uphill battles, and a relentless pursuit towards greatness. We’re taking cues from some of history’s most groundbreaking figures in education: Edward Alexander Bouchet, Maria Montessori, and Anne Sullivan.
At Bak USA, we’re used to doing things differently. We’re used to going against the grain and doing the dirty work. That’s why we’re building Atlas computers for teachers and students: Durable so they can stay strong. Portable so they can explore more. Affordable so they can make a difference. In school, at home, and on the road of life.
But none of that’s possible, really, without such meaningful contributions to education, society, and life from the incredible human beings listed here. Our commitment to lifelong learning stems from their achievements, for which we are eternally grateful.
Edward Alexander Bouchet
Sure, Bak USA is up against corporate fat cats like Apple, Samsung, and Dell. And yes, we’re hanging tough. But we’ll never be “First African American to earn a doctorate degree in the United States” tough. That honor belongs solely to Edward Alexander Bouchet.
- Graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree (1874)
- Earned his PhD in physics from Yale (1876)
- First African American to earn a doctorate degree in the United States
- Became one of only a handful of other academics with the same degree
- Taught sciences at the School for Colored Youth in Philadelphia for 25 years
There’s been talk around here about building and naming a computer after Dr. Bouchet. Why? Because he represents so many of the characteristics we cherish most: resilience, innovation, and equality. His commitment to education and social justice mirror our own, and if we achieve just a fraction of what Dr. Bouchet accomplished in his lifetime, we’ll consider ourselves a success.
My old man is an old school Italian guy, and some of the lessons he taught me when I was a kid were: “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” “Never keep cash in your wallet,” and “Always split aces.” That’s good advice!
Another Italian pioneer of theories in childhood education is Maria Montessori. And even though she probably never rolled “eight the hard way,” she most definitely hit the jackpot in life. You see, Maria Montessori broke ground as the first female doctor in Italy.
- Attended classes at a boy’s technical institute at the age of 14
- Graduated from the medical school of the University at Rome (1896)
- Became the first female doctor in Italy
- Specialized in pediatrics and psychiatry; treated poor children for free
- Developed a program called “Education for Peace”
- Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize twice
Dr. Montessori’s legacy lives on today. Her revolutionary theories in childhood development—which include sensory learning, creative exploration, and letting students’ natural interests “take the lead”—are prevalent learning models at thousands of Montessori schools worldwide. While those of us at Bak USA can’t expect to make such an improbable impact on education, we do follow Dr. Montessori’s lead by creating meaningful learning opportunities for students of all socio-economic environments.
Anne Sullivan was referred to as “The Miracle Worker,” and for good reason. This is the woman who taught Helen Keller—a blind and deaf girl—how to communicate and read Braille. She taught a blind and deaf person how to read braille! That’s… that’s crazy.
Some people call us crazy for building computers in the United States. In Buffalo, New York, of all places. But I’m not about to put us in the same sentence as Anne Sullivan.
So let’s put her in this sentence. Or better yet, in her own list of accomplishments:
- Grew up with her infirm younger brother in a home for the poor
- Thrived academically despite her own limited vision
- Embraced education as an escape from poverty
- Taught Helen Keller sign language (nearly 600 words) and math
- Helped Helen Keller become the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college
Anne Sullivan accomplished what most people believed to be impossible. To call her an inspiration would be doing a gross injustice to her legacy. Nevertheless, we are in awe of the impact she’s made on education, and we admire her unprecedented strength and spirit under the harshest of circumstances. We can only hope to embody her essence as we move forward.
What does all of this mean for Bak USA? For you? For anyone? We want you to know that our commitment to creating opportunities, facilitating education, and making a difference is in our DNA. It’s a part of who we are. And it is reflected in our products and services.
As we continue to break through the education space and the computer industry in general, we hope you’ll join us for the wild ride towards greatness.
Want more posts like this one? Check out our blog page online.
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James A. Colombo III