School change: The entrepreneur in us all

by Steve Wyckoff on September 8, 2010

School change means different things to different people, but one of the things that I believe we have to change in schools, especially in rural areas, is a focus on entrepreneurship. If our rural towns are going to survive, and the kids who stay there  live a decent life, then we have to grow our own entrepreneurs, businesses simply aren’t going to move to small rural towns.

This morning I had the opportunity to visit the entrepreneurship school in Stafford Kansas. What a breath of fresh air! The kids at the Seed Academy, which stands for Stafford Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, are doing things that truly impressed me. Not only are they creative an innovative, but their work is of the highest quality.

Over 20% of all of the students at Stafford High School are involved in the Seed Academy. Most of them will never open a business, and even fewer will open a business in Stafford. But some will. And in the community like Stafford every business makes a difference. If only one student a year ends up opening a business in Stafford it will make a huge difference to the community and the economics of the area.

Even the students who never open a business are learning very important lessons for their future. And they are learning by doing, which is absolutely the way all learning should occur.

Their next step? I believe that their next step needs to be a system where students receive academic credit when they master academic skills in a real world setting. I saw numerous examples in the brief time I was there where students could demonstrate under real-world conditions the use of academic skills and knowledge. There is no reason for students to set through an English class when they are demonstrating all of the skills that they would be learning in the class. Give them English credit and let them move on!

I always enjoy visiting those rare examples where schools are truly authentically engaging students in real-world experiences. In my mind that’s what school changes all about. – Steve Wyckoff

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