This is a guest post by Author, Evo Popoff. Evo was named State Policy Maker of the Year by the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA), and ranks among the small handful of education policymakers who have worked as an education entrepreneur and executive within the private sector. Evo previously served as Chief Innovation and Intervention Officer and Assistant Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Education, and also led development of edtech products and school improvement solutions in collaboration with district and state leaders, and educators.
Benefits of Youth Entrepreneurship
Preparing Today’s Students to Navigate
an Increasingly Ambiguous Future
As millions of students have been displaced from schools and classrooms, cracks in the way we prepare students to navigate ambiguity, and exert agency over their own learning are being revealed.
Educators make the case that students must be prepared through the acquisition of not just content knowledge, but the tools they need to work collaboratively, solve problems creatively and handle inevitable upheavals. But, in the race to boost test scores and prepare students for a tournament of college admissions that is based on what students know more than how they think, the purpose of learning is often overlooked.
Our latest Report, “Learning with a Purpose: Preparing Today’s Students to Navigate an Increasingly Ambiguous Future,” explores an educational imperative that has particular significance in the age of COVID-19. The Report highlights the ways in which schools and districts around the country have embraced the necessity that students think beyond what they’ve been exposed to. It also emphasizes just how important it is that we teach them to use their skills and passions to innovate. It explains why and how learning to start and operate a business can expose high school students to concepts that help them to understand and realize the purpose behind their learning.
We make the case that youth entrepreneurship can equip students with another tool they’ll need to thrive in a post-pandemic world: resiliency. Entrepreneurs don’t always get it right the first time. The most successful ones learn from their mistakes, then bounce back with renewed energy and focus, according to one expert in the report.
In the Report, we profile the perspectives of leaders like Dr. Tom Leonard, Superintendent of the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas, who told us that “Learning how to embrace failure, learning resiliency, is to me much more important in the long run than learning some of the fundamentals of business.”
We explain how Uncharted Learning’s INCubatoredu program, which is being used in 150 U.S. high schools, and has impacted more than 20,000 students, exposes students to new career fields and helps them develop a sense of purpose as they graduate and transition to college and beyond.
Uncharted Learning Co-Founder, Karl Fruecht, put it this way: “What we thought we were doing was benefiting the scrappy ‘C’ students. What we did not initially understand was that there were plenty of “A” students who may have seemingly been progressing normally, but who lacked the support, guidance, and ability to recover when their well-laid college or career plans failed.”
“America’s most interesting jobs are going to be ones that haven’t been done before. The opportunities are bigger; the bureaucracy smaller,” said George Anders, author of You Can Do Anything. “Find or invent one of those jobs, and you control your own destiny.”
Read more about the power of Purpose and how youth entrepreneurship programs can be an important driver.