1. Discuss two points on which Robinson, Pink, and Zhao would agree about the entrepreneur spirit and developing this disposition in youth.
Robinson, Pink, and Zhao could agree on a couple of points when talking about the entrepreneur spirit. All three of these would agree that in order to create an entrepreneurial spirit in students, we must allow them to be creative. In World Class Learners, Zhao quotes that the entrepreneurs share similar qualities of inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude (p81). Zhao goes on to discuss a man named Woody and how he was creative in providing a new “green” taxi service. Given the opportunity to be creative, he was able to create a business that is now profitable.
Pink would also agree that creativity is important. In his talk from TED Global (2009) entitled “The Puzzle of Motivation,” he uses the statement over and over that there is a mismatch in what science knows and what business does. In summary he says that if you want people to work hard and increase productivity, then they must be given the opportunity to work on what they are interested in, things that they like, and something they feel like will actually make a difference. This is the entrepreneurial mindset; doing what you desire to do. The paradox is that businesses consistently ask people to work at things that are not interesting to them, things that don’t have significance, and they expect the workers to produce high amounts. He goes on to say that simply providing rewards is not enough, and that it is science that proves people work harder for what they want to do. He cites examples of this idea from Google and another Australian Company. I think that again, he would agree that students need to be given the opportunity to be creative, to work on things they WANT to work on.
Finally, Robinson would also agree that students need to be given the opportunity to be creative and to think outside of the box. In Robinson’s TED Talk from TED2010 entitled Bring on the Revolution, he makes the statement that there is “a crisis of human resources.” By this he means that people are not using their talents or abilities in the best possible way; there are too many people doing things and not ever enjoying them. What if these people could do what they want, actually enjoy what they do, and still make a difference in the world? Wouldn’t that be the entrepreneurial spirit? All three of these men believe highly in giving students (and all people for that matter) creative freedom. They are not the only ones who believe that creativity is important, there are many educators that agree with the fact that creativity is necessary.
In 2010, Robina Shaheen published an article entitled Creativity and Education. She cites that many countries including Canada, China, Japan, and the USA, all require creativity as a part of the core curriculum (p167). However, these countries are still lacking the creativity and entrepreneurial mindset because the majority of people are all still seeking normal jobs but Zaho says that jobs that are “40 hours a week for 40 years…are gradually decreasing” (p67). Shaheen goes on to say “government should have the courage and the faith to back human imagination, our innate creativity, as the most potent force for individual change and social vision” (p167). There is a great need for creativity in this changing world. We must allow students to be creative in the classroom. If we want the revolution rather than a reform of education, as Robinson says, then we have to allow them the opportunities they desire. What we are currently doing, holding all students to do the same tasks, activities, and tests, is not working. We must begin to put into practice what we know will work. Change means taking a risk. The irony in it all is that we, in education, have to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset in our ways of teaching in order to teach students to have the entrepreneurial spirit!
A short film created by Ghetto Film School, presents a thought provoking message : “when students learn through the lens of something they care about, they care about doing the work, which works for everyone.” They are making it happen, and we need more schools like this!
2. Compare the Tinkering School, the High Tech High, and your school. Discuss the evidence you detect of the development of the entrepreneurial spirit in each and the fruit of these programs (or student learning results).
The Tinkering School, High Tech High, and my school, GC Burkhead have some similarities and differences. To some degree they are all attempting to develop the entrepreneurial spirit, however each of the schools seem to be doing this at a different level.
The Tinkering School, allows students to work on real-world related projects in the summer. Students are given specific tasks and they have to utilize their problem solving abilities to develop a solution, but the next step is actually putting the solution in action and creating it. The Tinkering school gives students that entrepreneurial spirit because they are becoming active participants and seeing that what they are doing is really making a difference. At the Tinkering School, students are given the opportunities to fail! They are not punished for failing, but are given the opportunity to re-evaluate their decisions and try again. Zhao says that entrepreneurial spirit needs opportunity and risk taking (p87). Tinkering School offers both. One of the biggest downfalls to this school is that the students are only exposed to the elements and opportunities for one week. It may spark the development of the entrepreneurial spirit, but it cannot see it to fruition.
At High Tech High, an entire school community from Kindergarten through 12th grade has been designed to focus on design principals of personalization, adult world connections, and common intellectual mission. The schools focus on authentic, rigorous learning where students learn to collaborate and use their talents and skills. Something that was very interesting, is that in the 5th grade Explorer School, students may all be learning about the same book, but they all have a job that is specific to their interest, and they are able to contribute equally to the culminating project. These schools have vast resources that allow students the experience and opportunity for hands on learning. This is a need for the entrepreneurial spirit to grow. The majority of the teaching at High Tech High schools is focused on preparing students for the real world, and helping them learn the skills that are necessary to do so. The greatest difference between this school and the Tinkering School is that students are exposed to this environment year round for their entire school careers. With this extensive amount of exposure, students have the entrepreneurial spirit embedded into them. The entrepreneurs are able to to be made, given the appropriate context like the school has, as Zhao suggests is possible (p86). The outcomes of this school are students who have clear direction, knowledge of what they are able to do, what they like to do, and how they can do it.
At my school, GC Burkhead, we want to help students achieve the highest proficiency in reading and math. Our focus is not necessarily on student interest or allowing them to create what they imagine. We work to differentiate for student needs, providing engaging lessons, and occasionally the students work to complete projects. The projects do not always connect to the real world, and students do not always understand the significance of what they are doing. The students complete work for the sake of completing work and getting grades. I believe that the teachers want students to be college and career ready, but the ways that we are teaching, students have the knowledge, but lack the application skills. When students fail, we ask them to do it over again, without really changing much about the process or the content. We also lack the resources to teach students effectively using technology and advancements. Class sizes also pose an issue for teachers to effectively teach students though hands on projects. We teach students that working hard will get them far and that they are in charge of their own success, however the true entrepreneurial spirit is not effectively taught. Students do not always know what to do with the knowledge that they have from school. Our tests scores are very high, with about 60% of the students reaching proficiency or higher, however the real test should be, what can they do with their skills?
Out of the three schools, I would think that the High Tech High would have the greatest outcomes for students in terms of performance and entrepreneurial spirit. That school follows everything that Zhao has written about, and everything that Robinson, and Pink discussed in their talks. Giving students the creative opportunities, allowing them to make mistakes and fail, and making them see that what they are doing actually matters.
Ghetto Film School (2011). Creativity is the future of education. Retrieved October 6, 2014 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0UgTe2xml4
High Tech High. (2014). Our k-12 schools. Retrieved October 7, 2014 from: http://www.hightechhigh.org/?show=schools
Pink, D. (2009). The puzzle of motivation. Retrieved October 6, 2014 from: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation?language=en
Robinson, K. (2010). Bring on the revolution. Retrieved October 6, 2014 from: http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution
Shaheen, R. (2010). Creativity and education. Creative Education, 1, 166-16
Tinkering School. (2014). About us: Our philosophy. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from: http://www.tinkeringschool.com/our-philosophy/
Zhao, Y. (2012). World class leaners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.