Over time as a business education teacher, I have grown my network across many professionals in order to bring their knowledge to my students and colleagues. The thing that makes me the happiest in life is helping connect young people with professionals and others who can help them excel in life. There is nothing in this world better than helping someone out who is hungry to learn and try new things. Nothing.
With that being said, I wanted to pass along some advice for young people out there to succeed faster. I will get to that in a moment. I recently got a text from a colleague who is looking for someone to do some video work. I have a lot of young people who “do” video and photography. This person wanted someone who needed to build their resume and there would likely not be a large sum of payment if any. I immediately had two candidates in mind (we will call them candidate 1 and candidate 2). They were both in the initial stages of their journey in their craft. I had to decide who I was going to pass along to this colleague in need. It just so happened I received a call from another business owner the evening before who I consult for and we had a conversation about candidate 1. This particular business owner was trying to get a hold of candidate 1 and ask a few questions. After a few days of leaving messages and texting this person, the business owner thought to reach out to me and see if I could find candidate 1. I hadn’t talked to candidate 1 in a while. I did know that his tendencies were to be a little unorganized and follow through was a challenge for him once in a while. I let the business owner know that this was the case and he would likely need to seek out another avenue for his business at the moment.
Back to the colleague in need of video work… that left candidate 2. This young person is one who grinds everyday. This kid is consistent. I have seen his work… as a matter of fact I have purchased his video services myself. He does great work. In all honesty, both candidates did great work which I purchased myself. There was one MAJOR difference in the candidates however. Candidate 2 followed up and was consistent way more than candidate 1. Like I states, both did amazing work. I handed candidate 2’s information to my colleague in need.
The point here is that success can be summed up in one sentence.
“Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.”
It’s really that simple. Be consistent with that with everybody you meet. Everybody. You never know when you will run across a situation in which another person gets asked about you. If you don’t do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it, you will be passed over on many opportunities.
It just so happened that two more professionals reached out to me the following morning to find someone in the video field and I handed them candidate 2’s info as well.
Another way to #disrupteducation.
This morning a picture from three years ago popped up on my Facebook feed. Usually I disregard these because I’ve seen them already and I’ve lived through it. This particular picture struck me because it reminded me of when I started questioning education in my Disrupt Education movement. The picture (above) is me in Paris, France on a river cruise with The Eiffel Tower behind us. It looks like any other tourist picture but to me it has much deeper meaning.
This trip was put together by an esteemed colleague of mine who asked me to go on it. It was a trip in which we took 30 high school students on and traveled throughout Europe. We set this trip up a whole year in advance. It was definitely not an easy task. We worked with parents, teachers, students, and administrators to find ways that we could take a diverse group of students on the spectacular 10 day journey. Some kids were able to fund the trip as they had the resources to do so. Some kids barely had a dime to their family’s name. We scrambled throughout the year finding donors and figuring out how to raise cash for all students to go.
The trip was officially called the Global Student Leader Summit. We traveled from Chicago to Germany to Amsterdam to Paris to Geneva and ended in Davos, Switzerland. There was a three day summit that changed my worldview of education in Switzerland. I was able to see and hear three individuals speak who are truly amazing. Among them were Clint Smith, Cesar Shahid, and one of my favorite authors of all time Sir Ken Robinson. Actually being in the same room with all three of these individual was amazing enough. The information I received was outstanding.
I realized that traditional education needed to be changed immediately.
There was so much information it was almost overwhelming. The summit worked around the idea of design thinking. There’s a lot of power and design thinking in education. Looking at how design thinking works and adding education to it was how disrupt education was born.
On June 27, 2015 I signed a summit challenge and pledge that I hold today.
The challenge states “How might we redesign education to meet the needs of the future?“ The summit pledge reads “I except the summer challenge and will continue to seek new and innovative solutions when I return home.”
From that day forward I promised myself that I would continue to look for new innovative solutions in education for the rest of my life. This journey is only three years old and I can honestly say I have learned so much from the people who I have talked to. Listening to people's stories and understanding their views of education continues to inspire me to be a part of disrupt education.
Thank you all for following this journey and supporting my effort to changing education for the better.
I am currently writing this blog while watching a two amazing artists work their magic in their music studio. They are letting the music flow and adjusting things constantly through the last hour or so. One artist is running though lyrics on his phone while the other artist is repeating the hook track over and over.
I am literally watching learning and building happen in front of my eyes. This moment reminds me of how education ought to be. There are no time limits to his creative learning. It just keeps growing and growing until it is to a point where the artist complete their learning on the track and record.
Learning in the traditional structure I currently am involved in is definitely a struggle for creatives.
As a traditional educator I along with my students are placed in boxes of time and places. Learning in the traditional structure I currently am involved in is definitely a struggle for creatives. Think about the last time you got into a groove of learning something new and it flowed. What happens to many students is they get in that groove then are interrupted when the short time bell rings and they have to move on to another piece of learning. Here is no flow like what I am witnessing today.
I have come to the realization that we as educational institutions need to better accommodate this type of learning. We need to slow down the process and let the learning flow happen. Switching gears in subjects and time disrupts learning. Students and teachers become frustrated with the process. In order to survive in the current pace of education, students and teachers end up just going through the motions. Let’s change this up in education.
Let’s disrupt education for the better and let learning flow.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to go to a coding training class in the city of Chicago. I am changing jobs this year in going to a new high school which is going to bring on a lot of challenges and I’m very excited about that. One of those challenges is that I am teaching an AP computer theory course that involves a lot of coding. Over the past couple years I’ve dabbled a little bit in the coding world. I would say I’m at a first grade level when it comes to understanding it. At this particular training I was asking a lot of questions trying to understand how things work, how students will react to new challenges to coding, and generally anything to give me an advantage to teaching a course and subject I know little about.
In the middle of training we were put into smaller groups of people who were at different levels of understanding code. I was obviously in the lowest level of knowledge group. There were three of us in the group and one gentleman had traveled from Milwaukee to this training. As we talked he told me that he has already taught the class for a year and he loved it. I asked him several questions about different types of coding, projects, etc. One thing I noticed about this gentleman was his absolute excitement about coding.
As he answered every one of my questions he was smiling and had this spark in his eye about what students could do in coding.
His excitement was infectious. At the end of the day still not knowing that much about coding and exactly what I’m going to do in the class, this educator had taught me a valuable lesson. The students in any course will react to your mindset around the curriculum. If you come into a classroom excited about the curriculum, learning and understanding there are opportunities everywhere, your students will learn along with you. This great teacher who traveled from Milwaukee to Chicago to learn more about coding was able to get me excited in less than an hour about a subject in which I was initially scared of.
That’s how we can disrupt education.
Education in the so-called liberal arts (history, philosophy, literature, music and the social sciences) is sometimes slandered as a bourgeois indulgence – interesting and good for polite conversation, but not really useful for one’s career.
This is not true.
In the fast changing world of work we see today, a thorough grounding in those disciplines will give you a distinct advantage. It will give you a deeper understanding of how our current systems came to exist and an understanding that things have not always been this way. You will have access to the speculations of the greatest minds who have ever lived who have sage advice for how to live. Perhaps most importantly of all, you what constitutes proper evidence and an ability to contemplate perspectives you may not agree with. “The purpose of the humanities is to cultivate the individual, cultivate the citizen,” as cultural critic Leon Wieseltier said.
All of this will help you think critically about the way in which the world is progressing and your role in it. This will enable you to perceive big picture trends more accurately. And you will start to understand (including understanding that you’re an idiot who knows nothing, which is also important). If you are smart and hardworking, empower you to move swiftly and take advantage of them. This may mean founding your own company, or it may mean putting your efforts towards acquiring a specific vocational skill which you ascertain is likely to be well remunerated and consistently in demand. If you decide not to pursue financial success, a liberal arts education will equip you to contemplate the mysteries of the universe for as long as you wish.
What it will not do, however, is guarantee you a good well paying job.
That transition will require a further step. This could look like transitioning from a ¾ year undergraduate degree to a company which provides a training program, like many management consultancy or finance firms do. It may mean going back to school again to do an MA in something vocational like Public Administration (if you can stand becoming an apparatchik) or Journalism (don’t do journalism it’s a dying medium you’re better of just doing marketing since with the death of profit making media outlets all journalism is slowly becoming marketing/paid content anyway) or law (although law, since it’s one of the last remaining profitable industries that isn’t tech, is now hopelessly over-saturated meaning vicious fights for increasingly few jobs).
Which leads to the question – why get that education at college?
Until recently, colleges were pretty much the only places you could get such an education. They had all the books you needed, books you may never have heard of before. And they had access to the educators themselves, the academics whose tutoring is the primary draw for elite universities. But technology has changed everything. Pretty much everything you can learn at a university you can also learn for free online.
As far as we can tell, there are five reasons to get a college education in the humanities.
Most of these you can get without going to college.
The first part is simple. Once you know which books to read, you can get them anywhere. Many of the greatest books are out of copyright (often by many hundreds of years) so a lot of them you can download for free online. Public libraries will have many others, and at most libraries you can order in books that you want from other libraries. Even if you buy them yourself, the total cost of outfitting yourself pales into comparison with the cost of college.
The second part, friends, is not only doable via college. Yes you will meet fantastic people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. But you can meet people in all sorts of places. Apps like Study Pal can hook you up with a study partner in your local city. You can meet people everywhere. And if you’re actively engaged in any kind of extra-curricular clubs (theatre, music, book clubs, sports, martial arts etc) you will meet lots of people.
The third part is very straightforward. Lectures are now freely available online. Check out Open Culture, or The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps or Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories lectures, to name just a few. Lectures on pretty much any topic are available right now, for free.
The thing you can’t get without going to college is the one on one interaction with the teachers. That really is second to none. But even that you can ameliorate by making an effort to attend conferences, extend correspondence and meet academics in person. Professors make a living traveling, teaching and speaking, so if you live anywhere near a major metropolitan hub, you should be able to find ways to attend such talks. Once at the talks, you’ll be able to come up to the dons afterwards and ask them a couple of questions. Professors are normally happy to do this. Not only do they love talking about their chosen subjects, but it’s always gratifying to be treated with respect and deference. It’s not the same as a long term tutor-student relationship, but it’s the next best thing.
That leaves the issue of credentialism. There is currently no institution offering accreditation to the equivalent level of a four year liberal arts degree without attending such an institution. Cynics have pointed out that this is nothing short of a racket. But even that is changing. As more and more people flood into college, the value of the degree goes down and down. This is even as it becomes more and more expensive. Taking the time and money you would have spent on a degree and investing it into something else may give you something just as valuable (if not more so) that employers will value. It will also set you apart from the crowd of faceless, identical college graduates. Starting your own business, travelling the world, taking a shorter vocational course or (depending on where you live) putting a downpayment on a house are all less expensive than getting a BA.
As long as you are confident in your decision and can demonstrate to potential employers why what you did instead was worthwhile, staying away from college shouldn’t harm your employment prospects.
Check out Praxis, a one year intensive business apprenticeship program. It’s divided into a six-month bootcamp that teaches you the skills to succeed in the modern workplace, followed by a six-month apprenticeship at a real startup where you will earn actual money. Tuition is $11,000, but you will earn $14,400 during your apprenticeship so unlike with college, you will finish the program with tangible vocational skills and cold hard cash in the bank. Check out Thaddeus Russell, whose Renegade University courses are available at a fraction of the cost of a traditional university.
These are just two of the many options rapidly emerging to disrupt higher education and take advantage of the gap in the market.
College is three or four years of your life, right at the beginning of your working life when you have the most energy and passion and drive. You won’t get that time back. Do you really want to do that, only to finish and have to go back to school again, delaying your entry into the workforce even further? That’s how you end up with people in their mid-to-late twenties who have never had a real job – they stayed so long in school that all they know how to do is more school. You may be better off doing something vocational and getting into the workforce quickly, so you can start earning some money.
Getting an undergraduate degree in liberal arts is also horrifically expensive.
Professors will tell you that a liberal arts education is something irreplaceable, which will benefit you for your entire life, make everything else you learn more meaningful and more useful and give you a set of tools that you can’t get anywhere else and in any other way. They’re right.
But you can get that education elsewhere. You can get it for free. Starting right now.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. If you really want to devote that long to diving into advanced subjects, spending loads of time reading, and just exploring yourself surrounded by amazing intelligent people then go for it. But you don’t need to.
You can get a liberal arts education without going. So if you want to go because everyone else is going and you don’t really know what to do with yourself, then ask yourself if you can’t do better by taking a different route.
This blog was written and posted by Lunacy Now on 6/5/18
For more blogs like this one, visit www.lunacynow.com
Yesterday evening I attended a speaking engagement called She Did That. It was an amazing event with three very driven, engaging, professional women. All three women shared their journey in business and in life. They spoke of sexism, professional drive, taking risks, and much more. It was a great event that my wife and ten year old daughter also attended.
Here’s the kicker… it was created, organized and hosted by a 17 and 18 year old.
Two of my previous business students who have done some pretty amazing things throughout the year, topped their year off by running the event. I have know these two students for many years as they have been in and around the OPRF School of Business regularly. If me or and of the teaching team needed anything done or wanted student involvement, these two young ladies stepped up. Did they do everything without fault or error… no. They did and still do everything without the fear of failing though. Doing things without that fear is a tough thing for anyone let alone a 17 and 18 year old. These ladies somehow found the drive and heart to not worry about things going wrong.
Back to the event… as I sat next to my 10 year old daughter, I imagined her as a teen being a leader. I imagined what this event will look like in 5 years. I imagined how it would grow from one event to possibly 2 or 3 per year bringing professional women together with young ladies to share stories and build success with each other. I imagined my daughter being a part of that. What these two young ladies did by putting that event together goes beyond the event itself. There were several other young girls there who saw this happen. They have seen their peers step forward and make something happen. They are likely to be a little less afraid of failing because of it. That is what teaching is all about. I live for these moments when I see young people take the risk without me or any other adult telling them to do it, and they do it.
When our students go forth without fear… amazing things happen. It's called authentic learning.
I have often been asked for recommendations about what books to read. These questions will come from students, colleagues, followers, etc. Before I start listing some of my favorites, I want to clarify my mindset while I am reading the books. My mindset is usually framed in how anything I read can be brought into the classroom and education in general. That is my passion in life. I want to learn about learning. I am always seeking new ways to look at any situation through other people's eyes. I highlight often in the books I read whether it is on a kindle or a physical book. If it is a library book (hint: free!!!) I will have a notepad next to me and write down notes and lines of the book that I deem worthy of keeping.
There are two types of books I love to read. They are World War II / Vietnam War memoirs and Business/education books.
The reason I like war memoirs is because my grandfather was almost killed fighting Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany in WWII. He never talked about it. He has since passed away and I have had a yearning to understand what he went through. I picked up WWII books and started reading. I have read over 50 WWII books to this date. I have branched out to Vietnam memoirs as well. I have found the life lessons from people who are close to death are very powerful. The stories of our heroes at war help me stay focused on what is important in my life and my dreams of changing education.
My current top 3 war books and favorite quotes from each are:
Auschwitz #34207; The Joe Rubenstein Story by Nancy Sprowell Geise
“You should never be afraid if you want to make a better life”
The Things Our Fathers Saw - The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation from Hometown, USA - Voices of the Pacific Theater by Matthew Rozell
“Kids should not grow up cynical - they should grow up like the world is theirs, and enjoy it and have a decent world”
Hornet 33: Memoir of a Combat Helicopter Pilot in Vietnam by Ed Denny
"Change what you can, accept what you can't, and be smart enough to know the difference."
Reading books about education and business can be a hit or miss for me. I like an author who tells it like it is...not as a sales pitch. I don’t want someone telling me their product or service, I listen to people who know their why and tell their story with it in mind.
Here are my current top 3 books on education / business.
Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica (This is what I consider the best book written on changing schools)
”The drab nature of standardized education does little to inspire and empower those caught in poverty.”
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
“People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
“What you do is your legacy. Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see. And don’t think it takes a huge team to make that difference either.”
I read a ton whenever I have a moment away from work and family. I hated reading in high school because they told me what to read. I found my why and sought out books and authors who could teach me more about my passion. What are your favorite books? I’d love to hear your lists!
About four years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kevin Bentley. Kevin was in the NFL for 10 years. Kevin came into my classrooms for the day and spoke to the students about several subjects. It’s funny because looking back, most of the students wanted to know about the NFL, the different players he interacted with and played against, and basically anything about the sport. I remembered something else Kevin talked about in his speech...life. As he eloquently spoke about his upbringing, his trials and tribulations and counting the times he sought opportunity, I wrote the following items down. I knew there was more to Kevin than just a man who played linebacker and tackled people in the NFL.
Here are the 16 nuggets of genius he said…
"I didn't play 10 years in the NFL because I was the best, I played 10 years because I was willing to learn and grow."
"Set the bar high for yourself."
"You can always get better. You can always grow."
"If you tell me I can't do something, I am going to prove you wrong."
"Believe in the growth mindset."
"If you want to be heard, you have to speak."
"Hard work ethic is my brand."
"Don't ever put yourself in a box because of yours or anyone else's perception of who you should be."
"The best way to learn is to be able to teach somebody else."
"Develop a work ethic that makes you so valuable, people can't get rid of you!"
"If you allow them to not allow you to think, you are doing yourself a great disservice."
"Slow nickels add up." - Mr. Bentley's NFL Motto.
"I'm not going to give anybody a reason to take away my opportunities."
"It's all about choices and decisions and making a plan for your success."
"Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a weakness."
"Great leaders allow people to make mistakes. They give others the opportunity to learn."
Thank you Kevin for sharing your legacy of being a winner in life. Comment below which quote of Kevin's is your favorite.
Last semester in my high school small business management class I experimented with bringing SCRUM into the teaching of how to manage. A colleague of mine who is a professional scrum master helped bring this awesome program to our students. We had 8 students choose to learn the scrum method and take the PSM-1 test. 2 of the 8 passed with most students coming very close to passing.
The remaining crew of students starting a business in small teams and ran their businesses during class. They did not receive direction on how to run it or how to manage it for a few weeks. When the SCRUM group tested, they worked with the student businesses to see if they could speed up their processes by being their project managers otherwise known as Scrum Masters. It didn’t work perfectly, however, the students learned how to move faster and fail more often. They learned the three components of SCRUM that they can use in their education and lives. Those three are: Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptability.
At the end of the semester, we had broken a few records… we had the first high school student in the nation to pass the PSM-1. We also had the youngest to pass the PSM-1 in the nation at the age of 15. Yes...15 years old. It can be done. We underestimate the knowledge of our students in traditional systems.
Most students came up to me on the final day and let me know how applicable SCRUM is to them in their lives. Many told me they have already applied it to their other classes and school work in general. In my teaching of business management, I have noticed many parallels to life uses. Students know that they can procrastinate on a paper and write it in the 11th hour. I’ve had conversations with students who have had weeks to complete an assignment wait and do it in 15 minutes right before it is due. And they do pretty well on it. We’ve all seen and heard of these stories as teachers and parents. My kids do it all the time.
In order to combat this habit, I believe teaching SCRUM to middle school kids is an answer. Framed up to the students, SCRUM can help them free up time in their days to get content completed quickly. The problem is is that students don’t want to finish early because they know they will have to do more work that they are not interested in. I tell students all the time that they could finish high school by using the SCRUM method in half the time (2 years). In order to make it work, we as educators should cover our content and have students get to the standards needed using SCRUM in sprints, then have them work on things they are actually curious about. For example, an eighth grader is given a unit of Algebra. They are taught to find the answers and understand problems by using technology. Done is defined by completing all the tasks for that unit and scoring a certain percentage on a test or exam. The student then will work with others on “development teams to work out the tasks at hand. The sprints happen by working out who is going to do what in the chapter. Each student must individually score a certain percentage on the unit assessment. Should one or more on the team (3-5 students) not pass, the others must help re-teach the lessons to help the student understand better. The team doesn’t move to done until all students pass the unit. The teacher here is the “product owner.” Is this going to work perfectly? Absolutely not. However, it has the potential to help students work together in teams earlier in life and understand the concepts of the newest ways to perform project management. The bottom line is that I think there is something within SCRUM that can be learned within our school systems to better run and educate our youth.
For more information about SCRUM go to www.scrum.org
One thing that has always baffled me is when students get in trouble for selling things in school. Why in this day and age are we not letting students buy and sell things within a school day?! My son and daughter are 13 and 10 years of age. They like stickers and I thought of a way to teach them about commerce and making a little money.
I went on Amazon and bought 100 stickers for $8. The stickers were in a variety pack. There was all types of stickers from rainbows and unicorns to Nike and Marvel characters. I asked my son and daughter which stickers they would like to sell. They each picked about 20 stickers. I asked them how much they could sell them for. My daughter said .50 a piece and my son was going for $1 each. They went to school the next day and I waited to see their results.
When my son came home, he said he didn’t really try to sell them. I got the feeling he was embarrassed to be selling stickers. He is in middle school after all. He is a work in progress. My daughter’s story was different. She is in elementary school in the fourth grade. When her class was lined up to go out for recess, she started asking some of her friends if they would like to buy some stickers. My daughter told me her teacher abruptly said that she couldn’t sell things in school at that moment. She was embarrassed not by her peers, but by her teacher. I like her teacher and knew that she didn’t mean to embarrass my daughter. She was just following policy. Here’s the kicker… a few weeks prior to my experiment with my kids selling stickers, I was asked to come in and speak about business and entrepreneurship. Another mom was also speaking about saving and spending money. So my question is, how are kids supposed to learn about this stuff if they can’t actually do it within their schools? Why is money and students commerce in schools frowned upon? If students only hear about what to do and never practice it, they won’t learn it!
It’s time we let students run their businesses and make money while they are in school!
It’s time to #disrupteducation.