Friday, June 17, 2011

Entrepreneurship in Education

I have been thinking about entrepreneurship a lot lately.  I think this is mainly due to three educational initiatives I'm currently working on:  (1) a summer entrepreneurship camp targeting youth at risk; (2) a summer camp/potential franchise operation to create educational programs for students with attention deficit disorder/ADHD; and (3) an ambitious middle school coop for the next year that will require substantial fundraising and entrepreneurship to raise the money to create some significant community awareness of the topic of the coop (which happens to be preserving our ocean resources).

It turns out that Chris Lehmann has been thinking a lot about this topic as well.  Lehmann is doing so because he is the principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA.  The Science Leadership Academy is a partnership high school between the public schools in Philly and the Franklin Institute.  Between what I know about the museum, which I did visit once, and what I read on the school website and on Lehmann's often-thoughtful blog....well, if you have to go to school, this looks like a pretty cool school to go to.

In the opening paragraph to his blog post on Entrepreneurship, I think the way Lehmann defines entrepreneurship is brilliant, especially as it relates to education:
I've been thinking a lot lately about entrepreneurship. People tend to immediately assume that means business, but I don't. Entrepreneurship is part of SLA's mission statement. But it's the part that oftentimes is - I think - hardest to see if you don't know what you're looking for. In the end, its about owning your ideas and doing interesting things with them. And I don't mean "owning" in some sort of proprietary non-sharing sort of way because collaboration is a huge piece of entrepreneurship. I mean owning your ideas in such a way that conveys that your ideas have power and have meaning and have use. Ken Robinson in one of his talks defines creativity as, "having original ideas of value." That's not a bad place to start. Entrepreneurship suggests that when you do something with those ideas.
Having important ideas and doing something interesting with them--that is certainly the basis of all three projects I mentioned above.  But, really, shouldn't that be what all of our educational endeavors should be leading students to do?  To think great thoughts and then to take action on those thoughts in a meaningful way--what a great way to think about the ultimate goal of our interactions with students.

So crystalizing that idea for me is a great gift from Mr. Lehmann's post (which you can read in its entirety here). But another gift was a TED video suggested by one of his commenters on the topic of teaching students to be entrepreneur. This was PERFECT for me, not only because it deals directly with what I'm doing in the entrepreneur camp and the ocean project, but because it makes the link between entrepreneurs and ADHD, which the presenter calls "the CEO's disease." Plus, at the end, there is a 2 minute animation that was so inspiring that it had me in tears. Here is that TED talk by Cameron Herold:

I'm just so grateful for the insight provided by Mr. Lehmann and Mr. Herold that I wanted to pass it on to all my readers.  I think it is a critically important concept that we need to nurture more in our educational endeavors, both inside and outside of school.

UPDATE: I decided to add the entrepreneurship video on its own, because I think it can be a useful educational resource by itself.

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