There aren’t too many hours spent in class that I wouldn’t take back if I could. But like most people, I have one or two classroom experiences that I look back on fondly. Business class was one of those, precisely because it wasn’t a class.
Our teacher was a local businessman. He wasn’t a teacher, and he didn’t act like one. More importantly, he treated us like people – people who could potentially run businesses one day (his confidence was probably undeserved).
I learned so much from that class. We actually tried to build a business. We did things that were uncomfortable for us awkward high schoolers: surveying potential customers, designing a brand, drawing up a business plan, and presenting it to our “investors” – the school administrators. We even sourced materials and worked on developing an employee schedule. It was fun, and it was grand, even for an idea as basic as a student-run coffee shop.
Trying to run it would have been a far more interesting lesson than those we were learning in our classes.
Unfortunately, our plan came to nothing in the end. Nobody told us that students aren’t really allowed to modify school property and run a business during school hours – at least until we got to the school higher-ups. I don’t think our hearts would have been in it anyway. We walked away with a great experience and the beginnings of some critical thought around life and business, but we failed to deliver.
That’s the problem with business classes, and it’s one of the important things I learned from my business teacher. You can spend all day planning and hypothesizing, but making an idea real is all that matters. If you know you’re going to have to return to classes the next day, your coffee shop empire means nothing.
That was more than just a problem with our business class – it was a problem with the participants. Like most young people with big ambitions, all of our ideas remained firmly stuck in my head or on paper. I know that’s how I lived most of my young life.
When I joined Praxis more than a year later, that started to change. This program is also an education for entrepreneurs, but it has something a business class can’t give you. It’s about learning by creating – doing the same things that made up my high school business class at its best, but with real stakes, real incentives, and real reward.
When our education director T.K. Coleman – someone I count as another great business teacher – began creating our new Teen Entrepreneurship Course, I was lucky enough to watch this project in its early stages. It condenses the best of that Praxis experience into an intense, creative two months. And it does everything high school business classes can’t do – it challenges you to make your ideas real.
My business class inspired me to start thinking differently about myself as a learner, but I had to get out of the classroom and get into the real world to see that change. If you’re still in school or unschooling yourself, we made this entrepreneurship course so you can start that process now.
If you’d like to start learning by creating, learn more our new teen entrepreneurship course.