Is The American Educational System Preparing Students For Success?

John Crestani

LOS ANGELES— While the global community innovates new technologies and new ways for people to make a living -- America’s educational system has remained stagnant and unresponsive to the expanding skillset that workers of the future will need to prosper. As a result, we are not graduating the innovators and entrepreneurs the economy needs. Of course, some public and private schools are trying to catch up (by having students spend time learning about the power of the Internet and the ability to grow a business through it). But most institutions do not teach whatshould be the focal point of contemporary education: entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship, as a term, doesn’t only mean the capacity or the wherewithal to start a business; rather it means to think creatively and ambitiously. Entrepreneurs can help expand and grow existing businesses or enterprises.

Entrepreneurial education benefits students from all backgrounds because it teaches young minds how to think outside the box when it comes to making money, and it also teaches them how to foster and cultivate the talents and skills that will be beneficial to their careers later in life. One of the reasons for this obvious, fewer people than ever are able to live off of the money they make at their 9-5 job.

Many jobs in America aren’t safe due to the fact that they are being sent overseas or workers are being replaced by technologic advances. Additionally, millions of workers are experiencing wage stagnation. Wage stagnation is so severe that nearly half of Americans don’t have an extra$400 on hand that would be necessary if they were hit by an unforeseen crisis or emergency, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors found. According to Thomas L. Friedman

“My generation had it easy. We got to ‘find’ a job. But, more than ever, our kids will have to ‘invent’ a job. (Fortunately, in today’s world, that’s easier and cheaper than ever before.) Sure, the lucky ones will find their first job, but, given the pace of change today, even they will have to reinvent, re-engineer and reimagine that job much more often than their parents if they want to advance in it.”

Entrepreneurial thinking is a pivotal skill for prospering in the global economy, even if that means just having a side business or a supplement source of income. Intuit found that a number of people who have side businesses (for example people who make money in the gig economy, i.e. Uber, Lyft and Fiverr) are doing so to supplement the income they aren’t making from their 9-5 job. Intuit projects that 9.2 million Americans will be doing some form of work in the on- demand industry by the year 2021. That number doesn’t account for self-employed people who have created their own jobs/businesses because they couldn’t make a steady living in the 9-5 economy.

So how do we teach students how to become entrepreneurs? ZerotoStartup has an approach. It teaches students, aged 12-17, over the course of a 13-week- after-school program, how to create and market a product in the technology market. These students meet for 3.5 hours per session, and they use real equipment (soldering irons for example) to create a prototype. This type of hands-on- approach encourages students to develop such skills as leadership, innovation, design and teamwork abilities.

At the end of the day, financial illiteracy is one of the most daunting problems young people in America face. One study found that only 9.4% of American students performed at the top level in a financial literacy test that included such tasks as calculating the balance on a bank statement and interpreting income tax brackets.

Given the financial situation of Americans’ finances, it isn’t surprising that a CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey found that jobs and the economy were the number 1 concern for entrepreneurs, according to 33 percent of respondents questioned.

Since leaving his cushy job in the corporate world, John Crestani has gone on to create WeLearn, an education company that is changing how the world learns.