We were at a recent EdTech meet-up where we had a conversation with an entrepreneur developing a K12 math app that went like this:
7 Generation Games: So did you used to be a teacher?
Other entrepreneur: No, I used to work at X tech company.
7 Generation Games: Oh, that’s cool. Are you working with teachers then?
Other guy: No, I don’t really see that as a necessity. It’s K12 math, so really you just have to understand K12 math.
We slowly backed away from the conversation. This idea encompasses what is wrong with so many EdTech startups. You do not need to be an educator to launch an EdTech company, but the idea by having been taught something, you know how to teach could not be more mistaken. Yet when it comes to “revolutionizing” education so many people seem to think that talking to the people who are actually doing the educating is a secondary.
“The educational system in the country is broken. Why would I take advice from those people?” another entrepreneur said at a different meet-up.
Never mind that perhaps other factors are at play than “teachers know nothing” when it comes to the educational system. (We’ve stopped going to most meet-ups.)
In fact, we at 7 Generation Games have taken a different approach. We embrace teachers. We see successful educational technology merging the expertise we bring to the table (technology) with what teachers bring to the table (daily experience in the education sector). And this is coming from a company with a CEO who has actually taught middle school math!
We recognize that just because we understand the concepts our games are teaching, that maybe there are better or, maybe not even better, but different ways to teach.
It’s why we’ve made an even more concerted effort to bring teachers into our game development process earlier and more in-depth. That’s because at 7 Generation Games, we recognize there’s a difference between sitting in a classroom and standing at the front of it. No one says, “I’ve been to the doctor and received a checkup, so now I know to give checkups.” If you’re sick and you want the best chance possible to recover, you turn to a doctor. If you’re looking to educate kids and you want to create the best possible environment for them to learn, you turn to teachers. Or at least we do.