"The ideas behind an online peer tutoring platform are not new" | Team Spotlight: Drew
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”- E.B. White.
Can you give us a brief introduction?
My name is Drew Bent. I am the chief operating officer at Schoolhouse.world and one of the co-founders.
How did you co-create Schoolhouse.world (SHW)?
Before SHW, I was working in software engineering at Khan Academy and was a teacher at Khan Lab School, and peer tutoring had been something we had been thinking about for a while. I was originally a tutor and later we took the project from this volunteer project and turned it into a non profit and now I work full-time.
What has been the most difficult part about this edtech startup?
We are still in the early phases of Schoolhouse, but the key challenge is to try and understand the learners who are on our platform. We spend a lot of time talking to the tutors, but we have to understand our learners and how they can benefit. I am excited to be working on this more with the team.
What does COO stand for and what are your roles as one?
COO stands for Chief Operating Officer. This means that I work with the team closely on engineering work, product work, and more. I am here to accelerate everyone’s work and help them accomplish whatever they need to do their best work.
Post COVID era, what do you think the future of SHW will be?
The ideas behind an online peer tutoring platform have been around since 2012 when Sal Khan wrote The One World Schoolhouse—they’re not new—and what I think is going to happen is that people will go back to in-person school. However, people always spend time working online and my hope is that the time being spent online will now also be used for more live synchronous interactions.
What are your thoughts on SHW as a community?
Schoolhouse started out as a volunteer project and that takes a community effort (thanks to Mariah’s leadership as Head of Community!). It’s in our DNA as an organization to be community-driven.
Any thoughts on schoolhouse.world conferences or at least more meetups in the future?
For context, our full time team is virtual and people are working from home. A few of our team members have been able to meet up in cities in California and New York. Some are going to Turkey next month. There is a lot of value and connection you get from interacting with these people in a physical space. You remember that they have legs. In some cases, some of us have known each other for a while before Schoolhouse. It has been a real delight.
How has SHW changed you?
I have been writing a ‘year in review’ on my personal reflections, and what I realized is that as Schoolhouse has grown, I have also had to grow. In terms of running an organization, personal growth helped me evolve.
What are your future goals?
My goals are to help Schoolhouse grow. I am all in on this mission. I think we can help millions around the world with high quality education for free.
What are your passions outside of Schoolhouse?
My passions outside of Schoolhouse include running, biking... I really love reading non-fiction and especially autobiographies. Lately, I’ve been on a streak of reading biographies. Over the past few years, I have been spending a lot of time with my family. I enjoy recording family history, which is a good way for me to connect with them.
Can you describe your experience during your Khan Lab School days?
At Khan Lab School for those who aren’t familiar, it’s a brick and mortar school in California that is the students’ full time school. I was teaching algebra and geometry, and one of the things that I loved was a class that I taught on peer tutoring with my friend, Phil. The goal of the class was to bring the right students to the classroom to teach each other. They all had different gaps in their learning, so they all taught each other. We were there to facilitate peer tutoring.
Do you teach sessions/series on Schoolhouse? If so, can you describe them?
I got involved by being one of the very first tutors. Now, I focus primarily on test prep, specifically SAT. Test Prep is one of those areas where there is the most inequity in who can afford high quality tutoring.
State a quote that best describes you and your journey.
One of the quotes I always go back to is an E. B. White quote. “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
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