At Oakridge we emphasize the modern skills students need to succeed. Some of the initiatives we have implemented include a public speaking program, which begins with our 3-year olds presenting in morning meeting and culminates in their delivery of a TED style talk their senior year. We have continued to place importance on communication through a campus-wide cross-departmental writing initiative. Dedicated spaces in each division focus on developing a maker mindset that emphasizes design thinking. These are just some of the things we are doing to make an Oakridge graduate stand out from his peers.
You may have surmised from watching our promotional video that the next learning opportunity we see for our students revolves around fostering an entrepreneurial mindset. According to research by Northeastern University, 73 percent of business leaders believe there is a skills gap among today’s U.S. workforce and 87 percent contend that most college graduates lack the skills critical to succeed (Aoun et. al, 2014). In agreement, Cahill and Jackson state, “over half of young Americans reach their mid-20s without the skills and labor market credentials essential for success as a knowledge worker in today’s economy” (2015). This research is just a sampling of the evidence that supports the need to cultivate a spirit of innovation and venture creation.
Our vision is an entrepreneurial track in Upper School that begins with a traditional class to introduce our students to business fundamentals through their interactions with local business leaders. By meeting with entrepreneurs, our students will learn first hand what it takes to start a business and the enterprising attitude necessary to take an innovative idea to fruition. However we know that entrepreneurs who have the goal intentions to start a new business are more likely to initiate and maintain entrepreneurial action when they complement those goal intentions with action plans (Frese, 2009; Frese & Zapf, 1994). With this knowledge, we have devised an implementation plan that will result in the construction of actual businesses that students will plan, develop, launch and run. In addition to the hands-on, authentic experiences they will receive, they will be required to regularly reflect upon their learning.
Students will showcase their work through personal e-Portfolios beginning the first day of the entrepreneurial track and hopefully continuing throughout their career. As Chatham-Carpenter, Seawel, & Raschig noted “ePortfolios not only provide an avenue for authentic reflection, they also provide students with a means of demonstrating their skill set, education, and relevant experiences” (2009). We have already demonstrated the success of this type of reflective blogging in multiple courses, including our Blended Economics class and Survey of British Literature.
We believe this entrepreneurial track and e-Portfolio implementation will be yet another important step forward in providing the best educational environment for students at The Oakridge School.
Looking ahead, we will continue to contribute to the entrepreneurial spirit at Oakridge. If you would like to join our journey, visit this page for updates and associated resources. We will post reviews of articles and books such as Influencer by Joseph Grenny. You can always check out what is on our current reading list here. Please visit this page in the future to check in on our progress.
Aoun, J. E., Gottlieb, G., Selingo, J., & Miller, K. (2014, April 29). Enhancing the Talent Pipeline | Innovation Imperative | Northeastern University. Retrieved September 02, 2016, from http://www.northeastern.edu/innovationsurvey/talent-pipeline/
Cahill, C., & Jackson, S. (2015, May). ERIC – Not as Hard as You Think: Engaging High School Students in Work-Based Learning, Jobs For the Future, 2015-May. Retrieved September 02, 2016, from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED561298
Chatham-Carpenter, A., Seawel, L., & Raschig, J. (2009). Avoiding the Pitfalls: Current Practices and Recommendations for ePortfolios in Higher Education.Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 38(4), 437-456. doi:10.2190/et.38.4.e
Frese, M. 2009. Toward a psychology of entrepreneurship—An action theory perspective. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 5: 437– 496.
Frese, M., & Zapf, D. 1994. Action as the core of work psychology: A German approach. In H Triandis. et al. (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 4): 271–340. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.