Creating Really Useful Educational Opportunities

178133_254x191If you’ve read much on my blog, you know that I do not have the traditional mindset of most educators. I have no problem with kids dropping out of school as long as they are doing so as a means of furthering their education. I don’t think that a college education is essential for success in the world. In fact, I know that it’s not.

I recently was watching to a TED Talk by Cameron Herold (@CameronHerold on Twitter) that challenged me and also reinforced some of my previously-held views and articulated them in a way that shed new light on them. The talk was entitled Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs. You should watch it. If nothing else, you will pick up a few amazing parenting ideas from it.

The last two things on the video are a list of things he says we should be teaching kids and a video. The list is pretty interesting to me, because a lot of the things I do in band are bordering on reinforcing these skills, but if I just pushed a little more, I could really go into them much deeper. How many of these skills are you teaching? I’ve included a couple suggestions of possible ways that I might encourage each of the skills this year.

  1. Problem solving
    “Why did you play the wrong note there?”
    Do some teacher-guided brainstorming of different ways to play higher/louder/better notes
  2. To lead others
    Provide opportunities for all students to lead the group
    Do occasional small group work and give all students leadership responsibilities
  3. To want to make money
    Use monetary rewards for fundraising top seller incentives (possibly?)
    Discuss the importance of earning potential
  4. Public speaking
    Allow students to speak at concert performaces
    Provide opportunities for all students to occasionally tell stories/jokes†
    Reward students for volunteering
  5. To ask questions
    Encourage every question, no matter how silly or redundant it may seem
    Thank students for asking questions
  6. To learn from mistakes
    Use mistakes as a springboard for growth
    “We all mess up, but we need to grow from that experience so we don’t make the same mistake twice”
  7. How to sell
    Encourage occasional negotiations about minor grading/rule changes
    Encourage students to do the selling†(and discourage parent intervention) in the fall fundraiser
  8. To never give up
    Make difficult assignments and don’t back down
    Reward extraordinary effort
  9. To be creative
    Students create concert programs, including coming up with program notes
    Let students make posters to decorate the classroom
    Allow students to update the bulletin board and any other displays
  10. How to save money
    Discuss the importance of saving money for purchases rather than spending it immediately
    Charge $0.25 for each replacement copy of a paper the students need; use the money later to pay for class rewards
  11. To ask for help
    Encourage every question, no matter how silly or redundant it may seem
    Thank students for asking questions
  12. To see solutions
    Present real-world problems to the students and allow them to brainstorm ways to solve them
    Come up with the most efficient way to store all of the supplies in the classroom
READ  But It's Not Your Fault!

See, I think we usually focus on the same three or four of these skills all the time. I know some of what I’ve done in the past has actually been counterproductive to some of these, so the challenge for me is to be more encouraging of the curiosity of my students and let them actually be kids.

This video that ended the talk is the essence of where we ought to be directing our students.

So what are you going to do this year to foster the†entrepreneurial†spirit of your students?

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

1 Comment on Creating Really Useful Educational Opportunities

  1. Joel-
    Thanks for sharing! Love this TED talk! We absolutely can and should be teaching these skills. Whether students grow up to be teachers, scientists, small business owners, or stay at home parents…the entrepreneurial spirit and skill-set of perseverance, tenacity, creative problem-solving, and self-reliance have been signatures of success in every field for centuries. We all need these "Habitudes" right?

    Check out lessons here:

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