ALTERNATIVE FRAME #1 : Every Student is an Entrepreneur

Reid Hoffman Tells Charlie Rose: “Every Individual Is Now An Entrepreneur.”

I actually think every individual is now an entrepreneur, whether they recognize it or not. . . . Average job length is two to four years. That makes you a small business. . . . You are the entrepreneur of your own small business. How do you get to your next gig? How do you do your career progression? All these things now fall on the individual shoulders. And so, they’re essentially an entrepreneur. . . . They’re entrepreneurs in terms of the business of themselves and how they drive that. So it’s how they get, like, their next job opportunity, how they get a promotion. All of that stuff comes from how they manage the network around them. Which is, by the way, what gave me the idea for LinkedIn.

So it is easy to criticize the predominant mode of education. Real easy. Just look at some of my other blog posts to see some reasons why the essay/left brain/banking model of education is so broken and so awfully boring.

The facts are dismaying…

55%-60% of urban teenagers DO NOT GRADUATE from high school.
Over 70% of all teenagers are not reading at a proficient level.
Few developmental students ever make it through English 1.
70% of students entering the Cal State System are entering with insufficient skills.

So the solution???? Give em more of the same????

It’s insanity.

I want to introduce the concept of FRAMES here. A FRAME is a window, a structure, a deep metaphor,
for organizing information and seeing the world.

The standard FRAME for viewing students is that they are deficient in skills, knowledge, and good behavior. So it is our job as educators to train them, fill them up with information, and be “tough” so that we can change their behavior. Sit with teachers for a while, and you’ll find this frame dominates the conversation.

The problem with this frame is that it is horribly disempowering for the students. They feel it. And they just live it up the lower expectations we have of them. Study after study prove this; students live up to a teacher’s expectation of them.

See the problem here?

So what’s the alternative?

Here’s one. Begin to treat the student as an ENTREPRENEUR.

Entrepreneurs have ideas or products that they are trying to develop then bring to market.
Then they have package and market their idea/product and then market it to the world.

They might work with a team of similar people excited about that idea or might be working alone. Either way, they have to learn to do all aspects of the process.

If their idea/product is good…they could get funding. They could start a business. They could quite possibly change the world for the better.

This notion of being an entrepreneur is that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for building your wealth and well being. We don’t rely on companies and institutions to take care of us. This is increasingly the reality of the workplace…especially in this screwed up economy. Major institutions are failing around us left and right.

Yet most teachers are institutionally oriented in mindset and pedagogy. We rely on the institution of our schools to take care of us…try not to rock the boat too much…once we get settled in…don’t have to innovate…get job security. All of which are the opposite of the entrepreneurial mindset.

The last few years I’ve very much seen myself as an entrepreneur. I innovate at the college level. I’m passionate about my ideas, the books I read with students, and my pedagogy. I even evangelize. Students love it. Well most of them at least. They dig the passion. They dig the hope and big dreaming and visions of a better classroom and world.

But the last few years I’ve been promoting this mindset with my students. It is their job to come up with an idea for their writings and presentations. It is their job to research it, then market it, and present it. It must be an idea that can improve someone’s life. Not just some intellectual argument that just dies off in an essay somewhere.

It’s ambitious. It takes work. It’s exciting.

And when I listen to videos like this…I realize IT IS THE FUTURE.

Gary Dawson Smith


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