School of Everything has been selected as an entrant in the "Social Innovation" section of the Europas. (Being a greedy, award-loving lot, we would like to win it, so please go and vote for us! Now.) In the discussion below the list of nominees there is a good bit of healthy criticism about most of the selections and whether or not they actually fit into the category. Dejan Strbac from aleveo.com asks why "aggregation of teacher ads" is seen as social innovation. He has a point. We know it.
The sound of ideals smashing against reality is not pretty. Grand concepts are never easy to bring into being. School of Everything was founded on extremely lofty goals - we wanted to change the face of education. We are still pursuing our grand ideals, but we are also very aware of how much work is involved in reaching them.
We would love School of Everything to make a difference to society. It is very important to us that our work is more than just a commercial enterprise - but it is just as important to us that it is a commercial enterprise. At the moment we are hard at work building the tools that will allow us to survive as a project. If we can sustain ourselves in the market, then we have proof that our work solves a social need. With a foundation in place, we can safely pursue the next steps of our plan.
The sound of ideals being brushed under the carpet? I am also very open to the argument that we have strayed too far from our vision. Simply building a tool that makes change possible is not the same as making the change happen. Perhaps we have been too quiet about our big idea, or does it make sense to quietly go about changing things step by step?
Education needs to change. In its current form, School of Everything plays its part by making it a little easier for those who are pro-active about learning to find people to teach them. Maybe it's a baby step, but it is in the right direction. We have a mountain of plans for the future that will reach way beyond where we are now - but first we must get the basics right. There is nothing like the sound of ideas forever lost in the clouds.
If we are going to truly be a social innovation, we have to think in the long term. We have to be practical and pragmatic. A website can only be a tool, one tool among many. The real innovation we want to achieve is in the way society thinks about learning. Education is not a product of mass production, it is an active journey, an adventure into new and unknown territories. Education is not a spectator experience, a choice of brands to be consumed. We learn best by participating, by being involved. The innovation we hope to inject into the fabric of society is this: Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. If you can help us on our way, we would love to know of your ideas.