Hi All – 

First post on the EA forum here.  Presenting the idea below.  Some potential action items coming out of this post are:

  1. Do you have any feedback?
  2. Do you want to help? (i.e. help plan, be a teacher, etc)
    1. Notably, I do not have the bandwidth right now to launch this myself.  Part of the reason I am posting this here is in case there is someone more qualified than me to do this, who also has the time, might pick it up.

Intro

Within the EA movement, two broad means of doing the most possible good with one’s life have been identified: maximizing career impact (i.e. 80,000 Hours Project) & maximizing financial contribution (i.e. One for the World). These opportunities fit most with people who have career flexibility or whose financial plans & total compensation allow them to donate heavily. 

Some effective altruists have neither career nor financial flexibility, but do have extra time & in-demand skills.  Teaching To Give proposes the creation of a non-profit which leverages that population’s time & expertise to generate donation revenue through individual & group instruction online.  The name is a play on the popular EA phrase & idea “Earning to Give.”   

Basic Structure

A simple website which lists teachers & allows students to easily search by learning area, sign up for sessions & donate.  A separate part of the website focuses on onboarding new teachers.  Students are sent optional short surveys after every lesson so TtG can monitor the quality of instruction.  The main learning areas would be: 1) hobby or life-type things (i.e. music/art/language lessons) | 2) professional/career-type things (i.e. coding classes, career coaching). The cost of the lessons would be benchmarked against market rates but with a significant markdown (i.e. 75% of the market rate for an hour private voice/singing lesson).  My main idea right now is to do 1-1 lessons because those have the highest cost.  But this could also scale out to group instruction as well, theoretically.

Target group for teachers

The ideal profile for a teacher here is a salaried professional who is not a professional teacher of the thing they would be teaching.  The reason for this is that a professional teacher can just work more hours to generate more money to donate.  In fact, an hourly professional of any kind can do the same.  However, salaried workers can not work more & make more in a proportional fashion.  Furthermore, these teachers would still need to be experts at the thing they would be teaching (i.e. a finance professional by day who also happens to be an expert amateur guitar player who has been playing regularly for 10 years). 

One objection I’ve received so far is that no one would want to learn from these teachers because they aren’t professionals at teaching.  I don’t think this is likely because in my personal experience I can teach things that I’m not a professional teacher at & I’ve learned plenty of things from non-professional teachers.  That said, the point of charging a markdown from the market rate is to cover any discrepancies in teaching ability that arise.  Also, the function of sending surveys & gathering feedback will be to catch any issues as they arise & coach the teachers as needed.

I believe that if this scaled, it could make a big impact.  Right now just in early brainstorming phase.

Thanks for reading,

Noah

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2 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:31 PM
New Comment

I'm not familiar with tutoring markets/services, so I was going to let other people who might be more familiar with this topic comment instead, but seeing no activity I'll share my initial thoughts: I haven't really thought or seen much about a "gig market" for teaching/tutoring, meaning that I don't have many models to evaluate so it's difficult for me to judge the effectiveness of the idea. I do suppose that some people might have the free time, expertise, and network where it makes sense to do this as a part-time/informal thing. However, I do have some concerns:

  1. reducing the price below market rate would presumably lead to a gap between supply/capacity and demand: in particular, I would expect that more people would want to sign up for these classes and perhaps fewer people would be willing to serve as tutors. To remedy this would likely require some kind of selection mechanism, such as interest or merit based selections (like some scholarship applications) and/or demonstrating financial need. Especially building on that note of financial need: if people do not face financial need but consider the lessons to be valuable, they should be willing to pay more than 75% of market rate, which means that the opportunity for more giving is lost.
  2. I'm a bit confused by your emphasis on 1-on-1 "because those have the highest cost": if you are saying that as a bad thing (i.e., "people can't afford them at regular prices") I see what you are saying but I'd still refer you back to my first point. Additionally, I think that one would need to weigh the costs and benefits of individualized vs. group sessions (e.g., less revenue for giving vs. improved training), and my weak/initial impression is that it's going to tip heavily in favor of group sessions since you can make multiples of revenue (or charge lower prices and reach more people at the same revenue) and still bring substantial benefits to students. In short, I highly doubt that the "training benefit" is inversely proportional to the number of people in a group for most things (because of, e.g., learning from others' mistakes/successes, lessons that apply to everyone)--in other words, a student in a group of two people does not learn at only half the rate; I'd suspect it's more like 70-80% (of course depending on the specific thing in question).

Thank you for the feedback, Harrison!  Good things to think about.  I think it would be best if I could do a proof of concept first to clarify the exact nature of my suggestions.