The name of this publication is inspired by the John Dewey quote, “"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

Why subscribe?

Subscribe to Life Itself for stories and insights about lifelong learning, spanning from K12 education to career development, and everything in between.

Who writes Life Itself?

Life Itself is written by Gerard Dawson, a former high school English teacher turned education technology professional.

I started my career as a high school English teacher because I liked writing and wanted to do good in the world.

While I loved the physical act of teaching, I quickly saw that the public education system didn’t align with my way of working and thinking.

Fortunately, around this time, the education technology movement was picking up speed. It would have a huge influence on me.

I began experimenting with tons of new EdTech tools in the classroom, seeking to remove inefficiencies, engage my students, and open them up to new opportunities for content, collaboration, connection, communication, and more.

At the same time, my itch to write grew, and I started reflecting on my teaching practice on a now-defunct blog. My writing about literacy on the blog eventually led me to publish Hacking Literacy: 5 Ways to Turn Any Classroom into a Culture of Readers.

These two pursuits: writing and technology continued in parallel, and eventually merged as I began to write as a freelancer for K12 education technology companies.

I quickly became interested in the world of startup technology companies. They were fast-moving, iterative, and future-focused, which were all things that I felt were unfortunately lacking in the K-12 education system. I started following as many of these companies as I could, and simultaneously learning some computer programming skills. I had a strong feeling the technology industry would be the next stage of my career, though I’m still squarely a novice when it comes to writing code.

Writing, and then marketing, however, showed promise for me. I was able to leverage my education experience and newly-growing skills in copywriting to help K12 EdTech companies better position themselves and communicate with the teachers and administrators they were trying to reach.

Through lots of trial and error, I figured out how to reach out to companies, and then have them reach out to me. I started the EdTech Startup Show Podcast, where I published over 50 episodes with interviews featuring founders and CEO of well-known EdTech companies from Outschool to DonorsChoose to Kaplan and more.

This period, from around 2015-2020, was a rapid learning process, where through a mixture of my own projects, research, and client work, I sought to build up the skills and experience needed to move on from teaching, even if I wasn’t exactly sure what my next step would be.

As the pandemic began, and the EdTech industry saw a huge spike in demand for its tools and services that helped teachers and students connect during remote learning, I also saw a big uptick in interest in my work. By the end of 2020, I knew it was time to make a leap, and I began freelancing full-time. I continued that for another year, until I joined Swivl, a company whose products I had happily used in my classroom, and a company who I had already been working for in a freelance capacity.

My learning hasn’t stopped.

While I initially joined Swivl on the marketing team, I then had an opportunity to work as a Product Manager, a role that I did not know existed when I was a teacher (for those outside of tech, no it’s not project manager). This new role was a chance to quickly learn about decision making, product design, communication, user experience, and more.

Now, I’m working with Swivl to leverage AI to help all students and teachers do more and better reflection. As a lifelong written reflector, this further aligns my work with my own values, which is something I’m grateful for.

Learning, trying things, and reflecting has been my path since I first began working, and writing online has improved my work and life in more ways than I can count.

I look forward to continuing to explore what it means to grow and evolve through lifelong learning through this Substack, and I welcome your feedback along the way.

My In-Depth Guides

I’m in the process of writing in-depth guides on different areas where I have direct experience and knowledge. The first of these is a copywriting guide for consultant, business owners, and marketers on small teams. It’s called Good Enough Copy in 3 Simple Steps.

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I write about carving your own path in work and life through continuous learning.