From my first day working on Khan Academy stuff several months ago I’ve felt extraordinarily lucky to be able to work on a problem that I care deeply about. In September, I had a chance to speak with Sal and was humbled to think that I was playing even a small part in his vision for education. When I was offered the chance to work full time, I couldn’t stop telling people how lucky I was.
Well, I’ve only been at the Khan Academy offices for two days, and the pattern continues.
On Tuesday, Ann Doerr, one of our board members, stopped by to meet Ben and I. She brought us cookies, which, as anyone who knows me will tell you, is a surefire way to my heart. She was there because she wanted to make sure we had everything we needed for the new offices. She and Sal spent a few minutes discussing getting some cool white boards and painting the walls. Wednesday, she came back with a ruler and a contractor.
A few hours later, we went to meet with the team of folks at Google that is actively helping and supporting the Khan Academy, and in walks Peter Norvig (not to mention one of the original GMail engineers and a bunch of other super-star engineers and researchers). He tells us that he’s got a few concerns about the layout of the UI because he’d mis-clicked something when he was playing with it. After my brain stopped shouting, “OMG it’s that Peter Norvig,” it started shouting, “He’s using your stuff. Oh crap.” But there was no derision or condescension, just an honest desire to help us succeed.
So here are two people with the means to be spending their time doing essentially whatever they want, and they decided that it was worth some time to talk to us. And not just talk, but think critically about what we’re doing, make suggestions, and even jump in and help. Add that to all of the folks that are helping out with design, development, donations, and a few kind words now and then and one can’t help but feel simultaneously stunned and humbled. It’s enough to make any sane person wonder if the world’s gone completely crazy, but in a good way.
So on the off chance that this isn’t all some elaborate episode of Punk’d, I’ll offer a huge Thanks! to all of the volunteers, supporters, and benefactors of the Khan Academy. The challenge ahead of our small team is a big one, and I’m feeling incredibly grateful for all of the help and support.