Tie And Jeans

Training for startups

I laid down $100 to spend an entire weekend trying to build an Edu Startup with strangers. I’d been talking about it for almost a month, but I put off the actual credit card transaction until the last possible minute. When I looked past all my enthusiasm, the basic concept had me completely freaked out.

When I first read about the StartupWeekend program, it fit neatly into the overlap of “things Andrew likes.” Nerds! Teachers! Code! Cons! What’s not to love about NerdTeacherCodeCon?!

That’s a sentence I have to write or say several times a day to keep my forward momentum going. Because there’s a lot that terrifies me in that bundle of things I like, most of which bend back on the weird center of nerd socialization, and the terrifying thought that I won’t “fit” with the dominant social program.

Can I suggest classroom ideas despite my meta-teacher position? Is it unthinkably gauche to pitch ideas aimed at the 1% problems of independent schools? Will everyone laugh at my code ideas if I can’t bust out the script before dawn?

Despite a wonderful adulthood surrounded by compassionate, open, articulate and welcoming people, who happen to be brilliant autodidacts, I find that my deepest scars and most debilitating anxiety stem from trauma done accidentally by other insecure kids two decades ago.

The process of standing up and asserting your worth in a crowded space is precisley the sort of training we should provide to middle school students, as a direct counterpoint to their carlelessly destructive social environment. Too often, our meager efforts simply reinforce the divide between their adult-approved, academic accomplishments and the real social currency of their daily lives.


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