Interviewed by Sabine Geithner.
First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself. You hold a PhD in Education, when and how did you discover your passion for teaching and education?
Quite honestly, I have always held a passion for teaching and education. As a child, I used to pretend that I was a teacher and convert our playroom into a cool classroom where I would offer “classes” to my brothers.
I also spent most of my time creating; writing stories, plays, songs, creating puppet shows, cooking and talk shows…. The sky was my limit. Kids around the neighbourhood of all ages came flocking to my home to catch the latest “episode” which I presented to them. Soon enough they all were inspired to do join in, adding their own bits and pieces or creating their own shows. We all helped each other out, learned from each other and we all felt special-because this was our world-our space for us and by us!
What I loved most was that our activities brought everyone together, all the popular kids, the bullied kids; everyone had a role in our world; everyone had something to offer and it was magical. My biggest dream was to find ways to spread this great idea to other kids everywhere because I felt very strongly that children had great power in connecting to others, teaching and learning from each other in ways that only kids could do; and I knew that it was something special. As soon as we began school, these creative adventurous shows came to a screeching halt. School matters took over and my dreams quickly dissipated into the routine of school life.
What did / do you love most about your work?
Well, I started off as a concert pianist at a really young age, and although I loved it-I felt a need to work with children and somehow give back via other means.
You used to consult for government agencies. How did that shape your view on education / the educational system.
Oh well…I was really naïve I think when I entered into the sector, believing that one could initiate change from above. I grew up in a rather privileged household, having access to the best of the best so-to-speak; being able to live my creativity, nourish my curiosity, travel around the globe and learn about the world first hand. The issues that always deeply concerned and bothered me as a child were those, which related to the poverty, disaffection and social inequality, I observed in many countries.
I initially thought that education was key to solving these issues. Then it became clear to me that the education systems, as they are structured actually exacerbated, if not created these problems. The systems were designed to create a particular response for individuals to function in a world that no longer exists; they neither embrace nor honour individuals as multi-faceted beings with a plethora of skills, talents, perspectives, and intelligences.
You are currently running a crowd-funding campaign for your own project kiddify.com – to raise seed capital to create a video platform for children. Can you tell us a little bit about that project?
KIDDIFY is really my childhood dream coming to life; a video platform for kids to share their skills and talents with their peers across the globe. I had the chance to do a great deal of field research and surveys with thousands of teachers, parents and kids around the world. I wanted to explore the habits and Internet needs of children under 15. As a result of that fieldwork, it became clear what I needed to do!
Child Internet safety is a big issue. How do you make sure that children won’t get to see inappropriate content?
This is indeed our number one priority. We will employ a number of mechanisms to maintain a high level of security of our users. Before launching, we have to obtain the various certification options for children’s online privacy globally. Each certification stipulates a number of rules, to which our platform has to abide. Our main goal is to maintain a community environment of respect, connection and discovery across cultures in a safe and moderated environment.
How did you get the idea for that platform?
The idea evolved from the research that emerged and my experiences working with children in schools. You allow students to become experts at things that they enjoy doing and it is powerful to see the sense of ownership, gratification and empowerment that follows. It also enables them to be proud of their skills and talents, which may not necessarily be seen or honoured within the classroom. The fact is that children are increasingly spending more time online-a great concern for parents and teachers. So, I also wanted to serve the critical need of connecting the offline lives of the students with their online activities, to enrich their online experiences, making it more creative, valuable and enriching.
Why did you decide to leave your safe position as an education consultant to venture out into the muddy waters of entrepreneurship? I imagine it takes a lot of courage.
It became clear that if I really wanted to achieve my personal goal of empowering children around the world, consulting was not going to be the way. Apart from that, I was always telling those children with whom I worked to always follow their dreams; to follow their hearts-and I was not taking my own advice. So, the time came. I also am working with amazing mentors, who present wonderful life examples, such as Verena Delius. Their entrepreneurship journey, stories of dedication and success continue to fuel me, inspire me and really keep me going. I also have a great deal of support from my family, which is awesome!
What advice would you give to women who are hesitating to start their own businesses?
I think that if there is hesitation, then they are not ready. It needs to come from within, with 100 percent conviction, I think. And then, once the decision is made:
The three most important points I would says are to:
- Never loose sight of your vision.
- Find mentors and get advice from those who have “been there and done that”.
- Always be honest to yourself and follow your gut instinct.
This is what I have gained thus far in knowledge and know that there are many further lessons to come!
Support her campaign with a donation at: http://igg.me/at/kiddify/x/1292050