Whatever You Do, Don’t Quit!

An entrepreneurs response to an entrepreneur on education.

Watch first: http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

If I remember high school correctly, there was a large representation in the bottom of the class that associated near the music and art wings of the school. They took creative liberty in the way they dressed. They decorated their books, binders and other belongings with skilled sketches in multiple mediums and styles and their musical taste transcended the popular pool. The bottom of the class never befriended the science or math teachers. They couldn’t tell you what made Einstein famous, the digits of pi or any of the greek letters. One of those groups “failed” and did not pursue further education and one group graduated at “the top of their class” and did.

If you are logical and systematic you will do well in school. If you are creative and passionate, nothing is guaranteed. As someone who will manage a quarter of a million dollars in business this year, I want people who are creative and passionate! I’m thankful for the help on my differential equations homework, but I’ll pass on the one-dimensional science prodigies any day. I want the creative-passionate people who don’t come out of college and I will pass on the systematic-logical people who do graduate college. What does that say about education? It says that we are failing both groups.

What I don’t want to do is hyperbolize for blog hits. Success is relative, and the rate at which humans are increasing our knowledge with respect to time has never been higher. However, it is generally accepted is that our steam-punk education model is failing our students. Why? Research by Green and Forster (2003) shows:

The results show that only 70% of all students in public high schools graduate, and that only 32% of all students leave high school qualified to attend a four-year college.”

As a successful entrepreneur, I’d call that wasteful and in-efficient. We are losing good people.

Cameron Herold talked about how schools are oblivious to potential successful entrepreneurs exemplified by the medication of their differences. Personally, my largest weakness as a student is that I have always had trouble focusing on one thing at a time. I could never listen to a coach outlining a play, I don’t START to understand a math problem until the third time someone walks me through it, and I have to invest time in sucking up to professors before and after class to offset the time in class when it is obvious I am not paying attention such as the times that I am rifling through notebooks, jotting down thoughts that popped into my head or brainstorming my latest idea. What troubles me in school is one of my greatest strengths in business. I would have failed in my first week running my residential house painting business if I could not re-invent and execute the sales, marketing, production and management sides of my business all at the same time.

So if the kids with ADHD fit into the entrepreneurial niche as Cameron Herold suggests, what other niches are left to be filled? I do not know. I was somewhere in the middle of the creative kids and science geeks. What I do know is that as science begins to probe the intangible, whether it is the physics of sub-atomic particles or distant galaxies, we can no longer rely so much on the scientific method. So far, nobody can comprehend what other dimensions would “look” like, and that sounds like the perfect job for someone who can think outside the box. In conclusion: Teachers, whatever you do, don’t quit on our students.


Greene, Ph.D., & Forster, Ph.D. (2003). Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States

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3 Responses to Whatever You Do, Don’t Quit!

  1. Very interesting post. What role do you plan on playing in the landscape of twenty-first century teaching and learning? Your insights are keen to the issues and you will have ample time in this course to provide insights into how you might see your professional life connect to learning in new ways and how you might inspire those in your community to do the same.

    A quot eon how I feel about business, scholarship and life:

    Viktor Frankl from Man’s Search for Meaning

    “Don’t aim at success–the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue….as the unintended side-effect of ones personel dedication to a course greater than oneself.”

    Try to read Godin’s Lynchpin….You will like it.

  2. MVV (mission, vision, values) is big in my workplace. I think that “success” is more of a vision than a mission. We also talk about working on the process and not just driving numbers. For example, although positions in our company have the potential to make a lot of money, we don’t like to hire people that are only focused on doing that. People that are focused on the process usually find that money follows.

  3. Pingback: What Happens to Learning When Grades Aren’t an Issue? | Stirring The Pot

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