Hi! My name is Ben Schade, and I run the YouTube channel “Glibatree”, where I make videos about the landscape of AI experiences. AI is a complicated topic, but I try to clearly explain how to get the most use out of the best tools, so that even a beginner can do amazing things. I have videos about AI Dungeon, Voyage, Disco and Stable Diffusion, ChatGPT, and of course I am probably best known for my well-polished tutorials on using MidJourney (videos like this one).

But this channel is just the beginning of what I am hoping to accomplish in this space.

The DodecaLearn Team

I have been developing DodecaLearn with my Mom. I know how that might sound, but my Mom is freaking brilliant! Her name is Sue Levene, and she graduated as an Electrical Engineer from MIT and got her Masters degree from Yale. With that education and 30 years of experience in software development, she could have any job she wants. So it might surprise you to hear that she went to teach Math, at an inner city public school, 50 minutes from Manhattan.

My Mom, when she was in first grade, had a friend Edwin who was clearly struggling with Math, but their teacher ignored him. So, at seven years old, she decided to lean over and help him engage with the material. The feeling of helping Edwin stuck with her, and she has been chasing it her entire life. In high school, college, and as a young professional, she always found ways to tutor or help struggling students. Finally, when I was started school, my Mom realized it fit her schedule to become a teacher at our local high school. While it might not be everyone’s dream, my mom felt like she had been working towards that her entire life.

In just a short time as a teacher, my Mom saw first-hand the systemic issues within the school system. She was determined to make a positive difference for as many students as possible, but it often felt like doing that was in direct conflict with the established rules and policies. Public schools are set up to teach the same thing at the same pace to every student. But as we all know, every student learns at their own pace and has personal obstacles that they each need to overcome. No matter what my Mom did, she found it impossible to help every student in her class succeed.

That experience is what led her to believe there are aspects of how education is offered that absolutely need to change. So many people have so many barriers to learning. It could be not enough money, not enough time, or not enough help. The truth is, today’s teachers are not equipped to provide everyone, individually, with the tools they need to succeed. My Mom has always wanted to do her part to improve the learning experience for everyone; but after being a teacher in this broken system, she learned the problem was bigger than something that could be fixed incrementally. Teachers are underpaid, overworked, and their administrations are fighting against them. After living through that, it became obvious to her that this problem can not be be solved with one teacher helping one student at one school, one at a time.

And well, I grew up in her house. My Mom was disenfranchised by the school system, and eventually it was my turn for high school. I was extremely fortunate to be offered a place at a prestigious boarding school in Maine, for gifted students. The Maine School of Science and Mathematics, once ranked the second best public school in the United States, was the best learning environment available to me. It was rigorous, full of motivated students, top-notch teachers, and literally had all the tools we needed for success. Even with all these benefits, every student worked themselves to the bone. They were tired, they were stressed, and they felt like they were missing out on life. The phrase I heard at that school, time and again from countless students, was: “I used to like math”.

With that phrase and my Mom’s feelings about the school system echoing in my head, that sentiment I was hearing from all my friends made me realize that there was a deeper issue at play. Too often, it seems like the impact of schooling is not to inspire a love of learning, but instead to quash it.

That is who we are, and that is where this project came from. My mom has been on a mission to help struggling learners since she was seven years old. I was raised to value kindness and equity in a learning environment. My Mom is a genius software developer. I am a creator, with a passion for AI. Together, working on this mission, I believe we can start to erase the barriers that exist in education for teachers and students alike.

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