Is the Future of Education in a Pod?


Normally, Mark is standing beside an EV charger or working on top of somebody’s roof installing solar panels. But in this video blog, Signature Electric is doing something completely different. We’re inside an 1861 schoolhouse, speaking with Rachel Marmer, a successful businesswoman and mother of four (and Mark’s daughter-in-law). Like Signature Electric, Rachel believes in changing society with a future forward focus — specifically for our children’s education.

With back-to-school around the corner and all of its planning (or rather lack of planning), there’s plenty of concern around the health and well-being of Canadian children. For Ontario parents, faced with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the flimsy plans laid out by the province, learning pods are looking like a viable alternative to sending kids back to school.

Learning pods are small groups of students who learn together outside the classroom, but still in person. Some pods hire tutors to teach a school curriculum, while others share teaching duties among parents.

When Rachel found herself considering to keep her own kids at home, she went to social media to find other parents to homeschool together. She created a Facebook group several months ago called Learning Pod Canada. The concept resonated so impactfully with parents and teachers that the group has grown to well over 10,000 active members.

Rachel says that now “we’re all navigating the terrain together.” It’s becoming a matchmaking destination for families to form learning pods. Her mission is to match children, teachers, and spaces, by connecting the dots between her growing database and all of the factors families want in a pod. In fact, she’s collected proprietary insights from multiple group surveys. Then it will be a matter of mobilizing quickly.

But while the idea of homeschooling is nothing new, there’s a concern about the affordability of learning pods. Rachel says that one of the most immediate ways the government can help is by making the model more accessible:

“Current legislation prohibits us from forming pods larger than five (four children and a single teacher). If we could raise that arbitrary number to around ten, more families could split the costs for a teacher and a space.”

Rachel adds, “we’re evolving in so many ways. We’ve already evolved how we live and how we work. Why can’t we evolve how we educate our children?” After all, they are our future. There’s room in the schoolhouse for everybody.

Watch the full interview:

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