Esther Wojcicki has experienced tremendous success as a mother and a teacher. Each of her daughters have impressive career achievements. Daughter Susan Wojcicki, is the CEO of YouTube; Janet Wojcicki is a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco; and Anne Wojcicki, is the founder and CEO of genetic testing company 23andMe.
Esther has been squarely at the center of Silicon Valley for her entire career as an influential, loved and respected teacher. Similar to Forest Gump living through pivotal moments in history, Susan has witnessed tech history firsthand. Google famously began its empire in daughter Susan’s garage. Susan and Janet lead disruptive tech companies. Plus, thousands of students who went through the journalism program Esther created at Palo Alto High School (and later on to pivotal roles in the tech industry and others) often consider the experience life-changing – both for the work they did, and for the respect, autonomy and the bar set by Esther.
Given her wisdom and experience as a mother and teacher, we were excited to speak with Esther once again about her thoughts on opportunities for the K-12 education system to evolve throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As Esther shares in our conversation, the current education system is operating at a model that is 100 years old. In today’s episode she shares ideas for modernizing education through a hybrid model that encourages students to practice creativity, while also spending a portion of their time on projects they are interested in pursuing. Esther suggests we see this time as an opportunity to set up systems that encourage students to focus on critical thinking skills vs. the standard memorization model. She also shares tips for parents on how to inspire younger, and older, students during homeschooling.
Once you listen to episode #117, we recommend you go back and download episode #96, recorded in 2019. In that conversation Esther shared the guiding principles she has used to raise her wildly successful daughters, as well as empower students through her journalism program. In that show, we discussed Esther’s book, How To Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons For Radical Results, and the parenting philosophy Esther uses called TRICK — trust, respect, independence, collaboration and kindness. You can also sign up for Esther’s new newsletter, wojway, for guidance on navigating the COVID-19 world of remote learning.