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Blyth-Templeton Blog

Aspire to Be the Next Silicon Valley CEO? Here's How You Can Get Started in High School

[fa icon="calendar"] 9/19/18 9:20 AM / by Radha Parameswaran

Radha Parameswaran

Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Michael Dell. Rachel Ray.

What is one thing these entrepreneurial giants have in common? All of them journeyed down unconventional paths in high school and college. Rejecting traditional education and a four year college degree has become a well known part of their atypical success stories.

Many young people have big dreams and aspirations. They enter high school filled to overflowing with ideas and creative solutions for the problems they see around them.

If that spirit is not nurtured and cared for, they can quickly give up on those dreams and ideas in favor of cramming for exams, taking practice SAT tests, and memorizing textbooks.

This post walks through how a high school learning environment can grow awesome entrepreneurs, creatives, and human beings and explores the skills and attitudes that are needed for 21st century success.

Why Traditional High School Learning Models Stifle Student Growth

There are a few predominant reasons why young people’s entrepreneurial spirits are stifled in traditional high school learning models:

  1. Because of large class sizes, poor teacher to student ratios, and limited resources (to name a few) - students are not often given the agency to think outside of the box, or to stray from the assigned tasks.
  2. Teachers are often under significant pressure to teach a specific curriculum and meet certain standardized benchmarks, leaving little room for flexibility and venturing away from the lesson plans to address students’ genuine interests.

This is where the experiential learning model, personalized learning, and a focus on cultivating entrepreneurial skills can help outside-the-box thinkers and students with big dreams thrive.

Our culture is changing rapidly to embrace greater entrepreneurship and recognize its value in shaping a more compassionate, socially responsible, and sustainable world. With this comes the recognition that ingenuity, creativity, and other entrepreneurial skills must be fostered throughout high school learning.

Skills For the 21st Century Workplace

In today’s workplaces, business leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to hire students straight out of college, because aspiring and eager young people lack many of the important skills needed to thrive in the business world. One of the most important attributes fresh graduates need to be competitive is experience, but interviewers are not seeing the skills or experience needed in the applications they recieve.

To prepare young people for careers in the 21st century, educational institutions must activate the entrepreneurial mindset in young people. Currently high school graduates are not prepared to meet the needs of today’s innovation economy. Many of the jobs which students will apply for in the future, do not currently exist. That is why entrepreneurial skills are so valuable, because they focus on a mindset of innovation that can translate to any job, rather than a specific skill set.

Some essential entrepreneurial skills include:

  • The ability to identify needs and invision solutions
  • A drive to begin a project and see it through
  • Flexibility and adaptability to make changes when things do not go according to plan
  • Resilience and determination when met with challenges
  • The ability to learn from failures and mistakes and use them as opportunities for growth
  • Good communication and collaboration skills
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills

Experiential Learning As the Ideal Platform For Entrepreneurship

At Blyth-Templeton Academy (BTA) our education model and school environment provides a platform for students to cultivate their creative potential and mental agility, and to begin stretching their entrepreneurial minds through self-exploration and non-traditional learning methods.

The experiential learning model offers countless opportunities for success, for students who have a need to think outside the box. Much of our learning at BTA takes place outside the classroom and in our community. This brings a real-world element to learning, and helps students to see theories and principles applied in their environments.

Through service-learning, students are encouraged to look around their communities to identify problems that need solving, and then develop creative strategies to address those needs. This project learning method places the initiative on the student, while giving them first hand experience.

At BTA, we also know that learning comes through a number of avenues and resources - not just textbooks and lectures. We encourage our students to listen to podcasts and watch videos, learn by asking questions and witnessing demonstrations, learn by interning, interviewing, and volunteering. These alternative methods of learning help foster a student’s sense of curiosity and passion for discovery.

BTA Is Focused on Fostering Independence and Creativity in Students

Teenagers need independence and environments where they can take control of their learning. At BTA, our education model encourages students to be self-directed learners and to engage in the subjects and materials in which they are interested. Students are encouraged to take ownership of their studies, which fosters an attitude of lifelong learning.

Students don’t need to wait until they graduate high school or college to begin innovating or pursuing their passions. Instead of stifling a student’s creative thinking in high school, giving it room to grow allows students to take chances and learn through their experiences, which sets them up for success in the future. If your student wants the freedom to dream as part of their education,choose a high school where they can thrive!

Want to learn more about how we prepare our students for 21st century success? Check out our comprehensive digital resource, The 2030 High School Graduate.

EXPLORE THE RESOURCE

Topics: skills for the future, careers of the future

Radha Parameswaran

About Radha Parameswaran

Radha Parameswaran is Head of School and teaches Science and Mathematics for Blyth-Templeton Academy. Radha has a B.A. in Chemical Physics from Barnard College, Columbia University, an M.S. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, and a M.S.T. in Adolescent Education from Pace University. She has taught at the lower school, high school, and college level.

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