Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

When I stopped into an Apple Store in Palo Alto last summer, it was swarming with cute kids in hot pink tee shirts, logoed with the name of a local day camp. Okay, I figured what the heck, 8-year olds learning how Apple's stuff and software works is a cool way to kill a couple of hours.

Then I learned that my eight-year old daughter (self portrait below) was "super excited" to be going on a class field trip to the Apple Store in the local mall. The class of third graders would take the local bus to one side of town and pick up another local bus to the mall (itself an adventure in our car-centric town).

The goal was to learn iMovie, which the kids have access to at school, and to make a movie. Actually, it's a pretty good idea to outsource movie production class to someone else, especially someone passionate about making movies. Regardless of where they are. Smart guy, Mr. C. (her teacher).

But now I'm starting to think that this is a master plan coming from Cupertino, indoctrination through the school system. And it's something that HP and Dell and Microsoft can't replicate right now (though Best Buy could). So I asked my daughter to do some investigative reporting and ask how many school field trips the Apple Store has every month.

Yesterday morning, I came down at 6:30 as usual to let the dog out and empty the dishwasher. Unusually, the kitchen wasn't dark. My eight-year old was already up and ready to rock. "I couldn't go back to sleep, Dad. I was too excited," she bubbled. Ah, the Apple Store awaits.

Last night, she showed off her new Apple tee shirt and also an essay on her favorite part of the field trip. Turns out it wasn't making movies on iPods and iMacs. It was walking into the empty mall and realizing that they had the whole place to themselves. Go figure.

"But I asked your question, Dad. Did you want to know about classes or kids?"

"Field trips," I said.

"Oh, phew," she sighed with relief. "He told me they have 1 to 2 field trips a month."

Okay, maybe not a fully formed education/indoctrination plan just yet. But with 273 stores in the most affluent and highly-traffic shopping venues in the US and beyond, Apple can do just that: give kids some real training on video, photos, communications, presentations. And if it benefits the brand, well that's nothing new in education.

What are your experiences with the Apple Store?

Sophie self-portrait Sep 09