Why Education? Why Edtech? (My personal story of why)

Not being a teacher or a parent (yet…), people sometimes ask why I decided to make my life’s work about using technology to improve education. I made that decision while in rural Cambodia in 2010. In a country still struggling to recover from the brutal genocide 40 years earlier, we were visiting a learning centre that ran afternoon classes and learning activities, complimenting the local school’s morning-only classes.

The centre was run by Sonai, an incredibly entrepreneurial lady only a few years my senior. She was the first person in her village ever to graduate high school. (She jokes that she only did it because she couldn’t bear the thought of being a farmer the rest of her life. I don’t blame her!)

Together with a team of other young teachers and mentors, they were providing food, learning and leadership development to hundreds of students in that village. She is determined to lift her village out of subsistence living through her brilliant mix of education and entrepreneurship. It worked for her, it can work for these kids too.

When I got back to Australia, I began chatting with teachers, and my admiration for the profession grew more and more. These people were fiercely determined to provide their students with the best opportunities for a life worth living. Even in a country as wealthy as Australia, a good education often makes the difference between a life shaped by hope and opportunity, and a life that just scrapes by. And we weren’t without our own educational struggles: remote indigenous education, catering to special needs, struggling with new national standards and international competition.

I don’t have the personal make-up to be an effective classroom teacher, and I don’t pretend to know all the best practices or solutions to all of these problems. What I can do, is work with the most innovative teachers to craft solutions to the most difficult problems. They bring their teaching expertise, I bring the design, tech and startup know-how. (The idea for ClassHomie came out of one such meeting with Aaron Gregory, a teacher I have so much respect for. It has since been refined by input from dozens of teachers).

I strongly believe that entrepreneurs and teachers can, and should, work together to solve the difficult problems of education. By improving learning, we improve lives. This work matters, and that’s why I’m building educational apps, starting with ClassHomie.

My Life’s Work

Here is my servant whom I have chosen
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.

Matthew 12:18-21

—–

my servant

Jesus was a servant, and as his disciples, we are his.  Have no illusions, we are here to serve, not to be served.

I have chosen

Each person chosen and assigned their role in ushering in God’s Kingdom, according to their unique God-given skills, strengths and gifts.

I love

Our strength and courage draws on this love God has for us.

in whom I delight

Our motivation is his delight.  Not to earn it, but to revel in it and enjoy it and immerse ourselves in it.

my Spirit on him

This isn’t merely natural work and effort, this is work empowered and affirmed by God’s Holy Spirit.

proclaim justice

Equality, fairness, hope, safety, opportunity

will not quarrel or cry out

It’s not about the sport, spectacle or stardom of society’s idea of success.

no one will hear his voice

Less talk, more action.  Less brand and perception and posturing, more life change.

bruised reed… smoldering wick

The hurt, oppressed, poor, hopeless and helpless, sick, overlooked.

till

Mercy is the strategy and the game plan.  We hold to the strategy until the end.

leads justice to victory

Justice will win out, but it’s slow and requires action, leadership.

In his name the nations will put their hope

This is my life’s work:

to offer Jesus’ hope to all that you can,
to work as he did,
empowered as he was,
with the values he carried
and the strategy he adopted
to the same end he strived for:
   the victory of justice,
   the hope of the nations,
   the delight of the Father.