Why I’m placing my bets on the sharing economy to save the future for our children.
Two years ago, I began to seriously turn my attention to the environmental havoc we are bringing on our children and to try to deeply explore how this came about, the roots of this problem and what I could best do to help foster a more sustainable, compassionate and authentic future for our kids.
The path of my thoughts kept returning to education. All my teachers in college always told me that the single most important action we could take to build a sustainable future was to empower girls and young women in developing countries to get an education. In turn, I began to think about how our own education system in the United States is so slow to incorporate the lessons we are learning now in this moment. Why has it taken us 30 years to just begin to integrate climate change into our curriculum, for example?
I looked at a system bogged down by bureaucracy, expensive to taxpayers and families, broken at every level — our elite private schools ignoring the social and emotional needs of their students to get them into Ivy league universities, our public schools trying so hard to provide meaningful, rich experiences for children and yet crippled by standardized testing, overcrowded classrooms and corporate greed.
I thought: what is truly needed for a great education? What is the simplest form of quality learning. My answer was simple. 1) a great teacher 2) a healthy peer group 3) a nurturing environment 4) families and communities involved and engaged in the learning process.
I discovered that all around the country, families and teachers were spontaneously reinventing our education system at a grassroots level by creating coops, classes and progressive schools, often based in a teacher’s home or local community space. These creative, innovative learning opportunities were inexpensive to run, empowered teachers and engaged families in the learning process. But, they were difficult to find, hidden gems spreading almost exclusively via word of mouth.
I thought about my own experience running a school — how much work and expertise it required to do marketing — that was 90% of my job. I then compared it to my experience being a host on Airbnb, where that marketing was completely taken care of by experts — a large umbrella that supported micro entrepreneurs sharing their homes.
I noticed that many of the most talented and creative people I knew were unable to launch classes or schools simply because they weren’t that great at running or marketing a business, or they just hated self-promotion.
I thought, what if we could provide the same service to teachers that Airbnb is offering to hosts? And in turn create a way to empower affordable, innovative learning experiences to children.
This is how the idea for CottageClass was born — a sharing economy marketplace for children’s learning experiences. And today, that vision has come to life with over 85 amazing teacherpreneurs in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
Today, I’m celebrating the incredible community that has been formed and looking forward to CottageClass becoming a resource that will supplement and inform the amazing work that is being done in our public schools, enhance afterschool activities, provide an easier way to design affordable tutor shares, coops and even nanny shares, show parents that everyone has wisdom to share and that you don’t have to have a teaching degree to enrich the life of a child and that will empower businesses to open their doors to children in the community to share even more knowledge and resources.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been such an amazing support to me along the way and I so look forward to continue working with you as this new project grows along with its vibrant community of teachers, families and friends of children everywhere.
Happy birthday CottageClass.com Welcome to the world:)