Shout out to NFTE
In previous posts I’ve mentioned my involvement in NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), an organization that focuses on youth entrepreneurship education around the world.
It’s an amazing experience and I’m privileged to be involved with this program. The strength of NFTE has really hit home over the past few weeks as I’ve been helping to lead a digital classroom initiative in two Bay Area public schools.
For the first time, two NFTE schools in this area are connecting and sharing ideas using technology. And I’d say that it’s the first time these students are getting a glimpse of what entrepreneurship is really all about.
NFTE developed an incredible curriculum that guides students through the ins and outs of entrepreneurship – marketing, finance, networking, etc. A very powerful and unique tool. However, it’s in school, so at the end of the day it’s still academic.
Students are encouraged to form sole proprietorships because the program wants to ensure that individuals are learning the basics of everything and receiving individual grades. Therefore, much of the focus is on opportunity recognition and getting the idea right, rather than teamwork and execution.
Makes sense, but that’s not entrepreneurship.
The base of successful entrepreneurship is getting the right people involved, and being able to execute with those people. It’s not about ideas, it’s about people and sharing. Sole proprietorships have almost no business in this type of learning environment, and I think that this is beginning to come through with the students. It’s incredible and inspiring to see.
Every other Wednesday we bring in guest speakers, via webcam, to provide insight into a different part of the startup world. One week is funding, one week is pitching to investors, etc. Students see that this “entrepreneurship stuff” that they’re learning about is real. People actually do this!
On the Wednesdays between speakers we focus on connecting the students. Here they see that their peers are hitting the same hurdles that they are, and they can work together to solve issues.
They’re learning that collaboration is key, and they’re seeing how technology can be used to enable and enhance collaboration without geographical boundaries. The world may be flat, but it’s nearly impossible to see that in high school.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and the way that I’ve been inspired by the NFTE students is like nothing that I’ve felt before. I’m glad that I can help them, and I’m grateful for the help and inspiration that they’re giving to me.