An Untapped, Overlooked Education Resource

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My degree is in business and my senior year I took a class on entrepreneurship. My professor had a doctorate but he had never had his own business, in fact he had never started a damn thing. He had never even run a company (if you were considering going to UNH for business school, reconsider). His knowledge was purely academic and if you wanted advice on how to start a business he was as useful as asking your furniture. On the other hand, I had some professors that were enormously insightful. You know who those people were? The ones with experience. I had a class on venture capital and it was taught by two venture capitalists. That was great. I had a business introduction class taught by a grey haired CEO type, that was great. I filled an art requirement with a stagecraft class which was taught by a guy who had managed Hollywood sets like “The Color Purple”. That guy was great.

We need more art classes taught by people who made a living as artists, more music classes taught by people who had careers in music, more business classes taught by people who have run companies. Not just in our colleges either. Our high schools, more than anywhere else, need experienced professionals at the front of the classroom.

You might say, Dave, those people aren’t exactly easy to come by. If you were to say that, I’d tell you that I think there are millions of baby boomers retiring right now, year after year, who have spent the last forty years as CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, writers, etc They are retiring from 40-50 hour work weeks and on month two of retirement most of them are bored. They would love to teach high school students for two classes a day during the week. So what’s stopping them?!?!?! The government. There’s a fucking surprise. You have to be certified to teach and that generally takes a year, at the least, if you go full time.

So here’s the plan, 8th grade and below will require a certificate to teach. I think what makes a good teacher for younger kids is a person who knows how to control a class, be patient, stern, etc. High school is a different deal though. Some kids are still struggling behaviorally but most can sit still. Many even have passions and some sense of direction. They can be taught by adults who simply know how to explain things clearly.

High school is a bunch of kids standing at a crossroads and it can be our society’s last chance to inspire a lot of them to try to make something of themselves. It is a great time, an ideal time, to have them taught by people who have founded companies, designed products, built buildings, written books. It’s a chance to show them the actual application of knowledge. It’s a time to give them the role model they never knew they were searching for. It’s time for them to connect with someone they find inspiring so thy can have a dream and feel a little closer to it.

Consider writing your local or state board of education with the idea. Claim it as your own, I don’t care. Let’s just get rid of the barriers to entry that are keeping us from tapping into a resource that is too rich and full of potential to let slip by.

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