Daily Inspiration: Meet John Edelson
Originally published by VoyageMIA.
Today we’d like to introduce you to John Edelson.
Hi John, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
From my 20s into my mid 30s/40s, I worked for high-tech, high-growth companies. I started at Silicon Graphics where we pioneered 3D graphics. Following Silicon Graphics, I worked for The 3DO Company, which started the modern video game era. I then stayed in video game development for a number of years. A race-to-market marked these years — we had to be the first to use a new idea or technological capability. Once a new product was shipped to market, our mission became to replace the product with something much better as soon as possible.
When I became a father, I was in a position to observe my kids’ schooling closely. My kids went to classrooms that operated much like the ones that I had attended 40 years ago, and it astonished me to see that the educational system was so tradition-bound. It felt as if learning was out of touch with modern students, the modern world’s educational needs, and too slow to adopt possible technological improvements.
My initial plan was to focus on rich media, which required broadband (this was during the dial-up, modem days).
I chose to focus entirely on parents who wanted to educate their kids at home. I built a system for education at home by developing and licensing a highly interactive educational system, much of it game, all of professionally produced with an eye towards stimulating the students’ curiosity and attention. Once I launched Time4Learning, the homeschoolers found me. They were so engaged and so interested in meaningful education for their kids I fell in love with homeschoolers. Fortunately, it was mutual.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The first few years were tough because the technology was tricky and my engineering team was not yet the robust department it is today (we were small but mighty!). We had a persistent challenge: I insisted on having a high-end multimedia system, but it sometimes didn’t work properly due to rudimentary home internet connections. Fortunately, the country switched to high-speed internet and WiFi became reliable. In retrospect, Time4Learning was in the right place, with the right product, at the right time. I had bet technology would catch up to us and, luckily, the future came along just as I hoped.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Homeschoolers and I share a vision that the best education for children caters to the children’s pace, strengths, challenges, and interests. School systems, because they batch students by age, have increasingly strict standards about what a six or nine-year-old should be able to do. Since all children develop at their own pace, this creates all sorts of tensions and problems for children.
In addition, the social environment in schools can be very difficult for children as they grow and figure out who they are. Homeschooling is proven to provide effective student-centric education with plenty of social and extracurricular activities, leading to healthier, better-educated children and a more successful family life.
What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I predict that homeschooling’s rise in popularity will continue for three key reasons. First, now that so many people are homeschooling, it has become mainstream so colleges and employers are increasingly comfortable with homeschooled students. In addition, parents have seen for themselves (or via their neighbors) that homeschooling does work. Finally, as schools wrestle with culture wars and teacher shortages, homeschooling will appear more appealing to more people. Did you know that over 10% of the K12 students are being homeschooled this year?
I also predict that the quality of educational software will dramatically improve over the next few years, a bit like the way video games improved over the last decades. This also will make it easier for families to choose homeschooling.