Where did Learninate come from? In the year 2000, I was studying at the School of Jazz at The New School in New York City. I expected to graduate two years later, having transferred all of my general credits from community college. After that, I would pursue a career as a professional musician and music teacher. Then, the catastrophe of September 11th upended everything.
Fear and uncertainty overwhelmed my youthful ambitions and after graduating, I returned to suburban California. For a time, I continued on the path of a pro musician: Playing gigs, organizing bands, composing, and teaching privately. Unfortunately, I felt as though I was treading water but not making any progress swimming against the tide. My course changed when I began teaching an after-school piano class at an elementary school.
Those children, aged 6-11, reminded me of the passion for learning that had inspired and motivated me to delve so deeply into music, and into other endeavors. Their curiosity and willingness to take risks helped me to be more vulnerable. Their innate drive to learn had not yet been suppressed. That was when I decided to become an elementary school teacher. My mission was to cultivate young learners, equipping them with tools they could use to pursue their interests and feed their own budding passions. I wanted to ‘education proof’ them, by helping to instill a love of learning that would propel them through their lives.
For the past ten years, that’s what I’ve been doing. Trends in education such as inquiry and personalization have helped, as has the educational technology revolution. Participating in connected learning communities has taught me of the potential of the internet to unite like-minded lifelong learners in a common cause: To fundamentally change education. That’s why I started Learninate. It’s meant to be a platform where everyone is a teacher and a learner, and to blur the distinction completely. It’s a space where anyone can express and explore their curiosity and creativity, just like those children in my piano class.