The spirit of entrepreneurship is crushed in the current school system, said Kevin Hogan, the editor-in-chief of Technology & Learning Magazine, at education conference EduCon this weekend.
Hogan was moderating the Sunday morning panel titled, “What Does the Entrepreneurial Spirit Mean for Schools?” at the seventh annual EduCon, a three-day conference about innovation in education and hosted by the Science Leadership Academy at 55 N. 22nd St. The four speakers were: Simon Hauger, co-founder of project-based experimental school The Sustainability Workshop, Eunice Mitchell, regional director at Big Picture Learning; Salome Thomas-El, principal of Thomas Edison Charter School; and Nathan Turner, head of Our School at Blair Grocery.
The current system is “not working for, like, 30 percent of the kids,” Taylor said. The weekend conversation draws attendees from across the East Coast and beyond, all sharing best practices and finding commonality across school districts. (Remember, more locally, we’re organizing with the U.S. State Department, the first ever domestic TechCamp, an unconference and hackathon that we’ll focus on education Feb. 22-24.)
Among the problems facing educators who seek to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in their students is the lack of institutional and colleague support to deviate from the traditional classroom norms. “We need to elevate the status of the people that choose to teach our children,” Thomas-El said.
Teachers need to find a place where they will fit in. “Get yourself in a school where you have allies,” Turner said.
For some, this might mean actually starting a new school based on their own ideologies, Thomas-El said. He also encouraged educators in the audience to use Twitter and other social media to connect with innovative educators they can model themselves after, as Thomas-El has done.
Those stuck in the traditional system need to take some risks and expand their responsibilities. “Teachers need to work outside their contracts,” Mitchell said.
It’s up to educators to make the changes they wish to see in the system, said the panelists. “Recognize your fear and overcome it. You are what you’ve been waiting for,” Turner said.
The panelists made it clear that the current education system is in dire need of change. “If we keep moving at a snail’s pace, we’ll lose a whole generation,” Thomas-El said.
EduCon 2.5 featured six breakout sessions in addition to the Friday night panel on entrepreneurship and the keynote speech by the new superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, William Hite. More than 550 attendees participated in the seventh annual EduCon, said organizers.
This report was done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism.