By Demi Wetzel, Culture Manager and Global Facilitator at Startup Weekend
The United States is home to one of the most static education systems in the world. We often view a graduation tassel as the first gunshot in the race that is life. Once you have graduated, you are expected to get a higher paying job than those with no degree. However, graduating high school or even college isn't enough anymore -- and it can't promise a rewarding job or a steady income. Many students are still lacking basic, fundamental skills that they need to achieve sustainable success.
We can begin to remedy this problem by implementing more entrepreneurial skill sets into our national curriculum. Entrepreneur Cameron Herold, who also held the TEDx talk "Let's raise kids to be entrepreneurs," explains that education reform is something that we have to be entrepreneurial about -- and that open-source learning will be the future of education as we know it. Cameron suggested in our discussion how starting with "platform speaking, handling objections, and finances" as core skills to teach. He also mentions "teaching self-reliance rather than sitting back and waiting on the government to do something for you" as a compelling new approach to traditional education. With the rapid evolution of modern business and technology, we can't wait on others to reform education for us.
Leveling the playing field with open-source tools.
The good news is that open-source education programs are already available and leading the way. Khan Academy is a perfect example of existing open-source education. This type of learning has given hundreds of thousands of eager students access to the educational resources they need. Most students never attend an Ivy League university, and some won't attend college -- but internet access alone provides them with lectures from the same schools that were once "out of reach" for them. Many universities now provide online lectures or podcasts, such as Stanford's "E-Corner" for entrepreneurial thought leadership. It is this type of open-source learning that is propelling students into new avenues of education. Similarly, you can watch entire courses via Udacity or join an online research community like Academia.
Learning by doing in your own community.
Ten years ago, the idea to teach entrepreneurship in small town communities may have seemed futile. Now, countless young minds (and old ones) are staying in their own zip codes. The cities of Santa Maria, Evansville, and Flagstaff may not sound like hotbeds of entrepreneurship but I assure you they are. Communities are finally taking entrepreneurial education into their own hands, and they are doing so by reaching out and creating ecosystems with their neighbors.
The surge of "non-traditional" academic routes made possible by the democratization of information has helped to support the development of these communities. Experiential, in-person programs like Startup Weekend and NEXT are empowering people to create their own futures while learning new skills. These programs are a wonderful resource for those looking to sharpen their pencils. The end results are extraordinary problem-solvers, capable entrepreneurs and thriving communities.
Building the curriculum of the future.
We must equip future students with the available tools found in open-source education while exposing them to an entrepreneurial mindset. One of the major side effects of becoming an entrepreneur is the fostering of your logic and reasoning abilities. You start to see efficient ways of accomplishing an array of challenges. Apart from these benefits, entrepreneurial activity generally produces a rise in self-reliance.
Cameron Herold explained, "the goal is to teach children to become entrepreneurial and self sufficient. The goal is to not get the school system to do it for us." The U.S. school system is in the midst of a pivotal opportunity. There is room to improve, and we must remain relevant and prepare students for the world that awaits them -- and in the true essence of entrepreneurship, we just need to do it ourselves.
By leveraging innovative resources like open-source learning and experiential programs into our national curriculum, we can help cultivate more impactful learning ecosystems. Our country already has a strong arsenal of tools, but it is critical that we continue to aggregate and extend these tools to everyone -- and if we can raise our children as entrepreneurs, that will be our greatest legacy yet.