A Visit to The White House

I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the White House on Monday, which was a total honor and pleasure! It was a “closed press” event and so we were asked specifically to minimize our use of social media during the event and to provide no attribution to anything said during the event.

OoOoOoOoOoOoOooooo… so secretive!

In reality, the event was connected to the My Brother’s Keeper initiative:

President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.Through this initiative, the Administration is joining with cities and towns, businesses, and foundations who are taking important steps to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way into the middle class.

There’s a significant focus on STEM and how software and technology can play a vital role in the success of this program. I was invited to share a few thoughts and perspectives of what I’ve seen in those particular areas.

I’m passionate about EdTech and the growing attention to the use of progressive software and technology to help bring affordable education to people everywhere.

One of my previous companies, The Iron Yard, jumped head-first into this world and I had the pleasure of building something more than just substantive – it was life-changing (and life-giving) to me and to those who became students.

So, when I was given the opportunity to head to the White House I had to say “Yes!” – I mean, how often do you get invited to go anyways…?!

And even after that event I had the opportunity to visit The Iron Yard’s campus in DC and do a guest lecture with the existing cohorts (with a dinner to boot)!

There are still so many opportunities to do so many great things in the field of EdTech. One of the perspectives that I wanted to bring to the table at the White House was a reminder about how important relationships are to great education programs.

More specifically, how coaching and mentoring must be fundamental parts of the transference of knowledge and information to students. Coaching and mentoring requires, fundamentally, trust and a solid and growing relationship is that bedrock.

mbk-stem

The point of bringing that perspective is, again, a reminder that despite the increased use of intelligent and progressive technology we must have room for relationships to grow and prosper between student and teacher. As long as technology allows those things to happen in addition to content and delivery mechanisms, then we’ll be on the right track.

Typically my audience is a bit surprised considering my engineering and technology background and many have positively responded to my thoughts and critique. Technology can’t solve everything but it can help us do most things better.

A full-out dependence on it exclusively, while good, needs to be wisely implemented at all times. I suppose the thing that I stand most strongly on is simply a hope that people not forget the importance of relationships in regards to education and mentorship.