ArtsEdTechNYC... The Best Meetup Ever?

The recent ArtsEdTech meetup is the best Meetup I’ve attended for one reason, and one reason only. Do take my opinion with a grain of salt – I’m a newcomer to the Meetup scene, and this meetup’s theme fits my background perfectly: my dad and brother are graphics designers, I used to be an edu-policy analyst, and now I’m a Ruby on Rails developer. But what made the ArtsEdTech meetup so darn special was the quality of the connections made at the event.

My first conversation was 90 minutes long, with the people I happened to meet on the elevator. One guy works for 4.0 Schools. Another is a SPED expert, and the other works for Amplify. Together, we shared perspective that was heartfelt, genuine, and slightly radical. We came to ArtsEdTech because we’re upset with education. But we also share a common belief that Ed-tech needs more heart, and the Arts need inclusion. Not exactly a radical stance, but when you talk to educators who are confronted by this reality everyday – how old ways of doing things prevail over exploration and experimentation – you wonder what keeps the current system place if nobody likes it.

However, at least two people boldy broadcast how education needs both heart and mind: Sam Blanco and Jessica Wilt. These two educators deeply inspired me: Sam for organizing and hacking learning resources for SPED, and Jessica for identifying the need for and bringing together ArtsEdTechNYC. Because I love their work, I’m Gittiping them both a nominal amount to show my support. Please check out Sam’s website or attend the next ArtsEdTech meetup.

If you’ve just gotten really excited and marked your calendar for the next ArtsEdTech meetup, then here’s my advice on how to get the most out of the experience:

  1. Bring a pet idea for how you would change education and share it with others. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the positive reception and critical insight you receive.

  2. Share your expertise with others. You know something that others don’t. Share it and everyone benefits.

  3. Be passionate. Believe that people who come together with a common belief can make a difference. We’re doing this for the kids, really.

By the way, if you’re a developer or know developer friends, I’m the only attendee that I met who described themselves as a programmer. There’s a huge opportunity for collaboration between passion-bleeding educators and do-gooder coders. If you can, make it happen.