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This Fall 2018, the K-12 community has made huge strides by tackling one of the world’s biggest human rights abuses. This is now being put to action by the non-profit organization Change The Ratio and its ambitious new vision for education, called Time2Learn. This program, in place at virtually every public school in the country, allows students to go online and learn practically anything they want. And this story of youth empowerment has found its way to TechCrunch at the Organization’s Love Her Down event last month, when a select group of learners and educators met in New York City.
Changing The Ratio, or Tinder, was started by young social entrepreneurs, tired of the global classroom system which leads to a low success rate in education. The company’s core product, called Blackboard Connect, gives any user anywhere in the world free access to what I learned and taught in every U.S. public school.
At the start of the “love her down” event, I learned first-hand how schools, parents, teachers, and communities can embrace and support Tinder’s love-focused, bottom-up approach.
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As soon as a tag to the event kicked off, Tinder demonstrated that business is not just about what you sell; it’s about engaging with a community.
Their brief into the room shed light on the need for Tinder to be integrated into the education system, in order to ensure success for all students. They quickly demonstrated the power of a one-on-one connection with a kid. After a short hands-on period with a child, I learned the same approach makes them more likely to complete the lesson. Their empathy effects changed their brain chemistry and literally made the students feel more like they were sitting in my classroom. They left happier, and empathetic adults were much more likely to follow them into the classroom.
What was also surprising was how similar Tinder’s instructional model is to how teachers go about teaching. These K-12 teachers are experts at working with students — but they do it much differently than I did. As soon as a student is engaged by a teacher, with real buy-in from them, it’s almost impossible to teach these children poorly.
Time2Learn shows you just how much money can be saved for the entire education ecosystem.
I picked up where the successful visitors left off to learn more about this crucial shift in education. Attendees started with a transparent look at their schools. The movement aims to reduce costs, increase effectiveness, and show high-performing schools what goes into creating a great curriculum and teaching methods. Kids were kept engaged by simple branded quizzes. I practiced writing a postcard while demonstrating the ABC’s, and how this simple act brings kids back to you each time.
The facilitators, based on their prior experience, gave advice on what the largest cost is in education. It’s not textbooks or teachers or other supplies, but it’s paperwork. Financial constraints mean lots of people are writing a lot of paper. The resources would be much more useful if you turned it into reading, fun games, and crossword puzzles for more kids. All of this is “achievable,” and each time the individual clicked, the instructors proved these ideas.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the night was meeting innovative, interesting, thoughtful, and inspiring kids. These influencers mostly spoke in completely creative ways. Even after talking with them for a few minutes, I found it hard to leave this room. I learned a lot about how they learn, and that they learned from the famous education theorist, Hooshang Amirahmadi.
On the human rights front, the fall of 2018 is the fall of another adult propaganda machine. It came as no surprise to learn that just like fake news, fake educational content (both fiction and non-fiction) are another form of manipulation. Kids, and I, learned that they can think critically and question narratives around hate speech and racism, and that even though they lack the education to be empathetic or fully understand how to determine the source of this content, they can tell if its just fake or not.
Time2Learn isn’t fixing for all adults. It shows how if someone wakes up, is honest about their human rights, and works for real change, they can change the world.