Geoff Ralston on the future of education and technology.
Geek At Sea

Age in itself is not particularly important, and neither is the ability to work hard and spend the time and energy. But the fact that younger founders do not have as many distractions, such as children or a spouse, and other dependencies, that gives them a certain advantage. To find more time to focus something has to give, and often, for the best founders, their personal life and their family is what gives.

When you are young, you don't have family and children that need your attention. That doesn't mean again that people with all those things can't focus, but usually something has to give, and for the very best founders it is their personal and family life that often do.

Parents become better at managing time because they have no choice, and it is a great parenting trick too. If you want to help your kids make the right choice, limit the possibilities.

Geoff says the traditional relationship between parents and children have shifted over time; the dad is more engaged now. The overall life is more demonstrative than it was back when he grew up. The main challenge for today’s parents have shifted. Back in the day, the main challenge was TV. Now, isolation with new media is a challenge for the whole family. You used to walk around and say hello to people, but now everyone is heads down into their devices. The greatest challenge of our time might be to balance time spent in the cyberspace and the real world.

Just watch someone forget their phone for a day.

Geoff is now a bigger believe in nature over nurture than he used to be. Your children are who they are from a young age, and even though everything will changed over time, those early traits will persist.

There is some evidence that early education is extremely important. However, we put way too much pressure on ourselves and our kids when it comes to school prep. There is also clear evidence that stress lowers your IQ, so maybe we are better off keeping the stress levels low, instead of worrying about the distant future.

When a person is calm, they do better on tests. This can explain why drugs are so popular with kids. Medicines that calm your mind down to help you focus— which improves your IQ— can result into a better score. You can accomplish the same with caffeine, where just the right amount can get you calm and focused, but take too much and you will get jittery and unable to concentrate.

First of all, babies don't come with a manual. When you get a first child, you are usually unsure of anything new that happens to them. Every stage is fresh and unknown. You are also more gentle and cautious when it comes to caring for the new baby. Slowly, over time, you begin to figure it out. Then, when you have a second baby, you are more at ease and comfortable with it. Startups are very similar in that way.

Second, as far as investing, you might not know the results for a couple of years or a decade. Same with children. You put all the energy without knowing the outcomes for a very long time.

Sometimes your children might appear unemotional or cruel towards you, but It’s not about you. Often we tend to interpret their reactions through our own hopes and fears, but instead, we should be treating them independently.

There is no manual. Even if there were, it would be out of date instantly. The good news is, there is guidance. The bad news, no one knows if it is the correct in your circumstances.

Be flexible, be good at learning, and expect change. Some of that change is going to be hard, so it is better be resilient. Model good behavior and lead by example.

There were two reasons why Jeff started Imagine K12. One was because it was obvious that technology would have a role in education. The other was because if you wanted to have a positive impact on the world and society as a whole, there was no better focus than education; it was therefore one of the key places to start.

Technology can definitely make education better, but transforming education is a more complex problem than that. It starts with making better teachers. We should figure out a way to help teachers be better at their craft, and figure out which teachers are good and which are not. We need to make the job teaching as prestigious as we can.

The American dream is that anyone can do anything. Technology has the potential to help and it is critical for the future of our country. Technology can level the playing field in schools and enable any kid to have an exposure to curriculum that otherwise might not be accessible to them.

Geoff says that no, we understand the power and impact of education, but we just do a remarkably poor job of putting our money where our priorities ought to be.

It is about your kids, not you. Try to understand when you are putting your own cares and needs in front of your kids in ways that are not in their best interest. It is all worth it.

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