by Paul Moss, paulgmoss.wordpress.com
Whenever you see an ambulance go by and cars get out of the way, you know that humankind still has a chance. People immediately bow to the pressures of the modern day, moving aside to let a life be saved. In times of danger and emergency people instinctively feel a need (and want) to assist in some way.
Perhaps, more cynically, such moments remind them of their own mortality. Either way, in a world becoming increasingly self-centered, moments of voluntary kindness to others can seem worlds apart, and despair lurks at every turn for the optimistic amongst us. But in my latest venture into the universe, I can happily report that we don’t have to wait for the bitter/sweet ambulance moment to maintain our hope.
I am a teacherpreneur, and what I have found while trying to seek feedback for a new app I am developing is that there are still people out there who will give up their time to help someone (a total stranger) who requests it. Their assistance is perhaps even more impressive as on the whole, they are teachers and school executives who are a highly stressed, exceptionally busy group of people, who have become understandably guarded at unsolicited requests of their time.
These people who have helped me out have provided me with feedback that has significantly aided the proof of concept of my idea. Their help has allowed me to refine the concept, and strengthen the value proposition significantly. My mission now is to create the product that I am certain will have a positive impact on student and teacher life in the future. The real point is however, that even if it doesn’t succeed, the product wouldn’t even stand a chance without their help.
Teacherpreneurs are by definition teachers who see a gap in the delivery of education, and strive to fill that gap with the implementation of a project or the invention of a product. The key term in the definition however is ‘teacher’. Most teacherpreneurs are teaching by day, and developing their products after hours. Some do it to make some extra money, but most as a passion to improve the teaching and learning environment. Few teachers are in a position to pay for market research into their idea, or to pay users to trial it for them.
They need users to take a risk on them, to give of their time, and to give it for free. In this sense, teacherpreneurs are no different to any aspiring inventor, completely reliant on generous acts of kindness from the public to get things started. It isn’t exaggerating to say that without people willing to give, very few of the inventions we use today could ever have been created, and with technology now beginning to seriously ruffle the feathers of a traditionally stable schooling sector, the need for users in the school context to give of their time will become more necessary than ever.
The relentless onslaught of edtech sales teams makes this a harder proposition, but schools are getting better at sorting the good from the bad, and are not so easily swept up in the hype of edtech as they were not so long ago. Despite this seemingly impossible context of devoting more time to strangers, the reality is that edtech is only in its infancy, and for good tools to become as good as they can be, they need to be given life, and supported through thick and thin.
New edtech tools need brave schools and leaders to let them live. They need brave schools and leaders to test and trial them, and they need brave schools and leaders to occasionally be prepared to watch them fail.
But while it might sound like a one way philanthropic street, the ultimate rewards are waiting just around the corner for those willing to give. The best inventions and innovations result in benefiting the masses, and become inseparable from everyday life. Those created in edtech are no different. What joy then awaits the giver as s/he sees the invention or innovation they helped develop become a part of mainstream teaching and learning culture, helping innumerable numbers of students achieve to their potential; what pride in their association.
On the smaller scale, what pride the individual gains knowing that they have helped someone else – that always feels good. Acts of generosity are the lifeblood of all invention, and indeed, humanity, and in the burgeoning yet embryonic world of edtech, perhaps such generosity will never be more important than now.
Out of the 300 or so people I contacted, long live these generous souls: Murray, Tomsett, McMullen, Pope, Edwards, Taylor, McCormick, Chu, Belton, Sheninger, Norrish, Young, Maiers, Constantino, Fish, Harold, Mackley, Sherington, Tierney, Harris, Myatt, Jones, Hardman, Wheatley, Mallavarapu, Nutt, Sweeney, Chou, Casas, Carton, Mirza, Thomas, Edwards, V. Goddard, Podchaski, Tully, Stern, Hallmon, T. Goddard, Wibberley.
Paul Moss has a Masters Degree in Education specializing in integrating technology into the curriculum, and student motivation, and has spent 10 years teaching across the world in Australia, Spain, and the UK. Paul is a passionate advocate of student voice and increasing opportunities for independent learning, and is gaining reputation as a pedagogy watchdog. Paul is the founder of EDmerger and Degrumbler. Paul is the proud father of 3 daughters. Follow Paul on twitter @edmerger, and on paulgmoss.wordpress.com; Innovative Learning Tools Need Innovative Teachers To Support Them; image attribution flickr user jenniferconnely