It’s time for me to pivot my life, once more. For me to jump into the unknown. To plunge with reckless abandon towards a beautiful mirage of change.
In the past year of invisibility off of this blog, I’ve started three projects, two in education, one in failure.
The Teach Tour began this exact time last year, taking me to random places and people throughout India and the US. I wanted to understand who was making a true impact in disrupting education and who had failed miserably. My deep desire was to uncover what it took to create a product or service for children to discover the wonders of education. Was it the product? Was it the people? The plan? The backing? Or was it some perfect combination of each of these things? I came out the other end realizing, after finding very few who had accomplished this task, that it was always about the people. Without fail.
Being a passionate yet novice change agent of education, I recognized a serious hole in my knowledge: I had been trying to help teachers but had never been a teacher myself! So I stopped off in Pune, Maharashtra to learn from the best of the best: Madhavi Kapur. A warrior for the children, a progressive educator, a vehement believer in experiential, playful education, Madhavi gave me an incredible dose of reality. Being a teacher is *ucking hard. There’s no words to explain the feeling of standing in front of 25 four year olds on the brink of distraction, in charge of teaching them something. It feels impossible. I gained a solid foundation and respect for the women and men who we entrust with our children’s bodies and minds, lives and futures. I stopped playing the blame game and started understanding just how many different moving parts truly play into any change that is going to come.
After this experience I had to step back into the promised land and try my hand at some change. HobNob began as a facebook-like tool, a “schoolbook” if you will, catered specifically for teachers and students to capitalize upon social networking- to open up communication lines inside and outside of the classroom walls. It quickly turned into a simple feedback loop mechanism for students voices to be heard in the classroom- over cell phones and text messages. The theory was, in order for education to truly engage our kids, we must ask them what engages them most. And we must act upon that information in some serious way. I piloted the idea with a school and got some fascinating feedback: students LOVED it, teachers HATED it. Ubiquitously.
Fatefully, I simultaneously toyed with the prospect of running an un-TED of sorts, dubbed “Hindsight: The other side of Failure.” The idea behind Hindsight was that although TED is fascinating and inspiring, there are often many failures that transpire prior to the successes we speak publicly about. What would happen if we were to openly discuss those failures as well? Might there be applicable learnings, deep insights, wonderful outcomes from that conversation as well? Apparently yes. And luckily, people loved it. Ubiquitously.
But it wasn’t all that I was passionate about. Hindsight couldn’t fulfill my burning desire to see children’s bulbs light up bright and shining with knowledge. So I continued working on both HobNob and Hindsight, hoping to find teammates, funding, business models, long term plans, all the things I’m terrible at finding.
It was at this point that I realized that there is a reason I am terrible at finding these things- I haven’t had enough mentorship and experience with people who are great at finding these things, and making a true impact at the same time. So I looked up the few people I know who fit this bill, and I asked them if I could work with them. One such man, Rikin Gandhi, said yes.
And so, here we are. I am taking up an incredible opportunity to work with my friend and his company, Digital Green, in Delhi, India, starting next week. And I hope to learn and apply all that I can while truly making an impact with a kick ass disruptive education company. One that is, in fact, all about the people.