Prev. published June 2010
Don't Be An Entrepreneur Type,
Fit Into This Other System And Become A Student"
- Cameron Herold
Cameron Herold is an entrepreneur and proud of it. He also did not do well in school for a variety of reasons with the main one being how his ADHD manifestations were at odds with the expectations of the school "system".
We really think his TED talk below has some powerful messages that parents and educators may find both enlightening and disturbing on various levels. Our rush to have kids fit into the increasingly standardized-tested-mold presently heralded by our policy-makers is not the best plan for the interests and future success for many of our most talented children.
Herold points out how entrepreneurship is often viewed by education elites as something outside the purview of education. He asks parents and teachers to be able to "find these kids with entrepreneurial traits" by being able to recognize the signs, and to help "foster this talent". From an economic perspective, if one realizes that our country's economic health is driven by small business owners with the majority share of total jobs and revenue coming from small businesses, we may reconsider the short shrift given to the premise of entrepreneurship. See related post, Kauffman Foundation & Charlie Rose on Education and Entrepreneurship.
Herold also enjoys sharing some bold pronouncements, such as how "Bi-polar Disorder is nicknamed the CEO disease" and goes on to name a host of super-star CEO's with the disease, such as Apple's Steve Jobs, CNN founder Ted Turner, and Netscape founder Jim Barksdale.
The point here is maybe decision-makers in education may often be too quick to judge and label students -- who may not like or do well in school in its current mode -- as having a learning disability or not interested in learning. With warnings like these, why bother looking at the possible dysfunction of the school in its present structure, along with the the disturbing trends such as the elimination of recess and less time devoted to the arts? Sir Ken Robinson addresses this issue head-on brilliantly here and with Mike Huckabee here, who posits that we've squeezed the life out of school with testing and myopic goals.
The other aspect of student-entrepreneurs in school is that they may display traits that are counter to that which is expected in most school cultures: tenacity, independence, creative risk-taking and questioning which may perceived as questioning authority (ie. "Can we do this another way?"). Entrepreneurs are, by nature, doers, tinkerers and iterators. While we may talk about promoting these traits and skills in school, students who display these characteristics may be more often advised to visit a psychiatrist's office more often than the more compliant student.
If you are short on time since this is a TED talk, check out the first five minutes and the last few for a provocative intro and wrap-up. (The mid-section of this talk gives a host of young entrepreneurial examples many of which, in this author's opinion, aren't exactly the most virtuous illustrations, but the big picture is the point of this post.)
Like his style or not, there are points that ring true. It would be nice if he added "ethics" to the list of traits to be taught and admired on the lists he presents in the conclusion, along with the many entrepreneurs who build businesses for visionary, purposeful and altruistic reasons, and not just for financial goals.
What's your riff on this?
Related The Daily Riff:
Former Harvard University President Larry Summers: "A" Students Tend to Become Professors and "C" Students Become Wealthy Donors
What's Missing in Education: The Entrepreneurial Edge
Does our educational system put the brakes on the entrepreneurial spirit in America?
10 Ways to Be An Entrepreneur