Monthly Archives: May 2017

Why (Not) Teach Entrepreneurship in Public Schools?

img_4853-2Entrepreneurial skills such as resilience, focus, commitment, developing relationships, self-reflection, and a positive attitude are not intuitive skills. They take practice and dedication and it becomes a momentous event for a young student to begin to understand that just because they may not already have many of these skills, it doesn’t mean that they will never be able to develop them. This revelation for many kids lifts a weight for those that begin to grasp that skills are developed through dedication and practice, and that because these can be learned and taught, they become very much accessible to all students.

We are generally predisposed as humans to shy away from conflict – our first reaction is almost always the wrong one – and so teaching kids to embrace change and challenge as opportunities is critical at an early age if they are to grow into adults who will be able to excel in our uncertain future workforce. So entrepreneurial and change management skills are important skills to teach in our classrooms.

One of the things I notice through the Bootstrapping Checklist is how students learn to relate to each other in a more respectful and professional way – they start to look at school as an opportunity to practice skills to help them relate to each other in a professional manner in order to try to realize their project visions.

Students learn to separate their behaviour from their personal identities, meaning that if they behave badly out of frustration or anxiety during a tough team meeting, it doesn’t mean that ‘that’s who they are’. It means they behaved badly in a stressful situation and entrepreneurial education of this type teaches kids to recognize and respond to challenge, rather than simply and continually reacting to stress.

Thus students begin to objectively see how their language and the way they and their peers speak to each other can positively or negatively impact the group’s success. They also learn that problem solving is hard, that getting frustrated is normal, and that there are specific skills and strategies that can be applied to mitigate the difficulties of complex problem solving.

I claim that the Bootstrapping Checklist can produce ‘cohorts of students who are more than HigherEd ready’ – and what this really means is that students learn to understand what agility looks like in a constantly changing and unpredictable global and local employment market. A fundamental quality of the Bootstrapping Checklist is what I call guided iterative inquiry – it is very much process oriented design thinking, heavily influenced with the Japanese concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement.

Teachers are fortunate in Ontario because we have a lot of freedom to plan curriculum delivery in our classrooms, and Ontario is a global education leader in inquiry and project- based learning, but we need to go further and normalize ‘cultures of innovation’ in our schools – and so teachers must take up the mantels of ‘teacherpreneurs’ and model this mindset for the students daily.

I go as far to suggesting that schools, especially middle and high schools, should be turned into ‘innovation hubs’, where the classroom is project incubator and the school/district is accelerator – cloud computing and iterative design thinking can practically support student projects over years – with the potential of student projects actually deploying in communities.

This is a paradigm shift of the purpose of our education system – to produce students who are not only skilled at change management, but who critically have not lost their desire to be imaginative, empathetic and creative people who are excited at the opportunities that constant change and uncertainty produce. We need to teach our kids never to lose their brilliance, and schools need to support this creative drive from the beginning to middle school, to high school, and beyond.

Rich Baxter is an educator and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education in our public schools. He is honoured to be a Judge in the K-12 Category for the 2017 and 2018 QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards.


#opensource #openinnovation #TheBootstrappingChecklist #ReimagineEdu #socialinnovation #entrepreneur #artseducation #edtech #local2global #edchat #edtechchat

10 Notables Changing the Future of Learning and Teaching

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Education is merging with neuroscience, quantum computing, and AI, redefining what it means to be human and thus what it means to learn and to teach. Where does that put education as a human endeavor and what other factors do we need to consider in order to take full advantage of the present knowledge revolution?

  • The game changers that support 21st Century Technology and Learning are cloud computing, more connectivity, cheaper devices that enable social networks, and AI enabled extreme personalization. Online learning communities immersed in organized cycles of inquiry are an important aspect of the future of education – we need to promote the facilitation of these communities in our young learners.
  • Excellent teachers, along with AI, will support all of these technological interventions and more, but will we learn when to ‘turn the AI off’, or risk merging with the Neuralink – it will be there if you want it.  
  • Measuring success will be more shared, less quantitative, and supported by valued competencieswe give too many linear assignments – we need to balance these with cyclical inquiry holding unknown outcomes at the outset in order to allow students to practice the competencies that mitigate the stress of ambiguity of complex problem solving.
  • The arts are critical – art is the highest form of human expression.  Education is a human endeavor, and as such it must respect our nature as creative beings – cutting funding to arts and humanities makes no sense. Coding is important, but frankly, a lot of it will be automated by the time my students reach working age (BTW – there is no STEM, only STEAM – one has only to look at Hypercars as examples).
  • The process frees the mind – classrooms must do more extended cyclical inquiries to 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks, and eventually to 5 months. Evaluation and assessment can be deeper within a longer cycle, and the competencies practiced become just as/more important as the summative marks achieved at the end of the process.
  • Inquiry = deep questions to promote access + facilitated responses + critique and comment to encourage commitment to a mastery mindset. Deep Learning doesn’t happen without deep questions, and ‘siloed’ mini-lessons only serve to further fracture our students – students need longer, deeper, and more cross-curricular/interdisciplinary projects for context and relevance – service learning is a great way to solve local and global community problems, we should focus more on this.
  • Personalized Learning means a fundamental shift in responsibility on the part of students and their families who require more guidance and encouragement to curate knowledge, competencies and empathy in pursuit of future dreams, plans and realities in terms of education, employment and happiness – in a very uncertain but hopeful future.
  • Storytelling and blogging remain crucial for relevance and for sharing of student voice. Family curation of career goals will become more important, as will be the curation of social media legacies of individuals – that’s why blogging is such a relevant and authentic activity to teach in schools – it is their voice through curated narrative that gives relevance to these activities – they are forging their digital legacies.
  • Students need guidance to curate their own competencies to help them develop their own growth mindset. Teach kids what their strengths and needs are and how to communicate those to other people, how to collaborate with others, and how to manage projects and assignments, and have a future vision of happiness.
  • Engaging in collaboration and not knowing the outcome at the outset and being able to manage that ambiguity is important to teach our kids. Being able to feel comfortable with complexity and public speaking, pushing through the stresses of innovation – and realizing that none of these habits are necessarily intuitive — they take practice to master.   

Authentic personalized learning requires that 21st century schools are filled with students and families who are provided the opportunity to take on more responsibility for their learning, in response to the exponential increase in resources provided by the Internet. Excellent teaching and AI will guide this upward innovation movement, but ‘a shared leadership’ will facilitate more and more partnerships within communities and between them.

What would you add to this list?

Special thanks to Robyn D. Shulman for her support:

Rich Baxter is an educator and advocate for social innovation, the arts, and entrepreneurial education in our public schools. He is honoured to be a Judge for the 2017 QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards.


#opensource #openinnovation #TheBootstrappingChecklist #ReimagineEdu #socialinnovation #entrepreneur #artseducation #edtech #local2global #edchat #edtechchat #iterate2innovate #education #innovation