Friday Night at the Hub


Alex Hernandez beautifully captured the heart of Startup Weekend EDU Next Generation Schools in his opening remarks: “It’s easy to recognize that the factory model of education is broken–it’s far scarier to imagine and build next generation schools.” This weekend is about doing just that.

The room was packed–with over 115 participants plus mentors, judges and Startup Weekend EDU supporters. Startup Weekend is all about innovation and the new format for this weekend’s SF Next Generation Schools is an experiment itself. Instead of building an edtech company or tool over the weekend, 43 participants pitched ideas for how to innovate the whole concept of school. Brian Greenberg challenged them to determine “the critical walls to enforce  and knock down all the rest.”  Common themes emerged: the need for authentic, personalized learning, project-based learning, less rigid school structures, more community/parent involvement, focus on perseverance and problem-solving, developing entrepreneurial skills and connecting learning to the real world.

After crowd input through Poll Everywhere, the judges weaned the ideas down to 15 teams: Open Hemispheres, Classless, MajorEd, SparkEDU, Developing EDU, EPIC, Practice Peers, AdoptED, The Real Magic Bus, Arrested Development, Coral Reef Education, Own It, Learn It, Hacker Schools and 20% Time for Teachers.

Mandela’s teacher persona was out in full force–she kept the crowd engaged, energetic and even moving–one fun evening highlight:  2-min Dance Party breaks!

Brian Greenberg, Silicon Schools, and Alex Hernandez, New Growth Charter Fund, made it clear they were actively shopping this weekend–teams could walk out on Sunday with funding talks. There’s “literally a path to go from today to launching a school with the right chutzpah and energy.” It doesn’t get more real than this!