Tuesday, December 04, 2012
A Charter High School For the Business-Minded
The Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School, located at 601 East Street in West Easton, is looking for students. Below is a very lengthy overview, prepared by Mark Lang. I am publishing all of it. If this is something you are considering for your son and daughter, I know you'll take a close look at it, especially after you see a video of the above young entrepreneur from Allentown, who worked on a business with skateboards.
"This is my time to shine," this young man said.
You can contact Mark Lang with any questions at 610-691-8459.
The Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School is pioneering a new paradigm for education that engages students through hands-on, meaningful project activities and helps the students achieve their full potential to advance business and society in the ways they are gifted. We are leveraging the best lessons from entrepreneurs to address all the education needs and opportunities of the 21st Century's global creative economy within the context of today's social challenges.
A culture of learning is created by helping each student understand and develop his or her natural abilities and passions. The resulting environment supports engagement and fulfillment, which makes learning meaningful. Students master the core academic subjects through specially selected, team-based and student-directed projects. In this way students learn to research the information needed for a given task or project, critically evaluate what is important, and communicate and collaborate with peers and other resources to co-create outcomes that address goals. Further, all students learn to solve problems creatively just like entrepreneurs by engaging in challenging, multidisciplinary "incubator" projects to the point of creating their own innovative businesses and social initiatives that address real issues for real customers.
The project-based approach provides a learning environment that naturally engages and develops a wide variety of students with diverse abilities and interests. This includes academic standouts bored with traditional schools; to hands-on learners who are disconnected from book learning; through kids who have not had the role models and opportunities to be all they can be. Each has the opportunity to contribute in his or her own unique manner and to take the projects as far as he or she wants to go, so there is no need for separate advanced placement courses. By working together students experience the power that diverse people with different skills and abilities can bring to a productive collaboration. Finally, all students learn to lead within the context of their own gifts and personal styles.
Need for New Education Paradigm
It is widely recognized that in the 21st Century we face an economy globally integrated to an unprecedented degree, along with unimagined advances in science and technology. Hungry people in faraway lands are ready and able to take on any job that is predictable and routine enough for them to master, if it is not automated first. This includes the vast majority of jobs within the traditional middle class. U.S. based organizations must constantly move the bar forward by innovating to survive. The knowledge and skills required for adults to achieve their full potential as citizens, employees, leaders, parents, volunteers, and entrepreneurs in this world are dramatically different from those in prior ages. People require real mastery in English, math, science, and other school subjects so they can apply their understanding to new situations. Further, business and political leaders are increasingly asking schools to develop such skills as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership, and even innovative problem solving―often referred to as "21st Century skills."
Recognizing that schools in the U.S. are falling behind on measures such as international tests and dropout rates, new testing regimens have been forced on public schools to hold them accountable for performance. We believe that the targets for these assessments and the education reform movement in general are misplaced because, even if they are achieved, schools will at best satisfy basic content learning in the tested subjects―leaving out the range of newly important 21st Century skills and, in particular, the need for regular innovation.
The Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School is being designed from the ground up to address all of the education needs dictated by the 21st Century global economy, as well as various societal challenges that get in the way of learning. That includes:
1. Engaging students in learning so they have the motivation to stay involved;
2. Identifying and building on the strengths and styles of each individual student so he can achieve his full potential as gifted;
3. Getting beyond memorization of facts and formulas so that students truly master the core academic subjects and can apply them to any situation; and
4. Developing the innovation and leadership skills to question, think, collaborate, and creatively address problems and opportunities (the 21st Century skills).
It is pretty obvious that changing or improving the current education system cannot accomplish such ambitious learning goals. This effort requires an entirely new paradigm of learning that integrates all of the goals.
The new education paradigm being pioneered by the Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School involves hands-on, student directed learning organized around real projects that are meaningful to students. First, the curriculum includes specific activities to help each student identify his or her natural strengths and interests. Every person is born with unique skills (things he or she can do better than many others) and interests (things that invoke passionate responses). We help each student get in touch with his or her specific life purpose, where he or she is gifted and passionate, and then to develop the knowledge and skills he or she will need to achieve their full potential in that purpose. Second, we teach the majority of core academic subjects (broadly reading and writing, math, science, and humanities) through hands-on projects. We select key questions that are interesting to the students and also require specific knowledge they need to learn, and have students work on projects in teams to develop the answers. In this way students learn the important content as it is used to address real and meaningful applications. At the same time the students are developing 21st Century skills including critical thinking, collaboration, communications, creativity, research, and project management. Finally, we have all students work on challenging, multidisciplinary projects chosen largely by the students where they develop innovative solutions to real problems and opportunities in business, school, or community. Students learn initiative, innovation, dealing with ambiguity, learning from failure, and related advanced skills while they incubate new businesses and social initiatives.
The Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School has been launched with significant support from business leaders and entrepreneurs within the community. We expect them to help the school keep aware of dynamic business and human resource requirements. Further, many will interact with the students as project mentors, hosts for interns, and sponsors of projects students undertake for specific organizations.
This learning approach borrows from several national education models including High Tech High in San Diego and the Buck Institute for Education in Novato, CA. It also incorporates extensive knowledge from the school's principals and supporters on entrepreneurship and the non-linear innovation process practiced by creative entrepreneurs (called "lean entrepreneurship" in many circles today). Our new education paradigm emerges at the integration of entrepreneurial innovation and leadership. We expect it to become a national model for the future of education, and we expect to develop extensive tools, guides, lessons, and support for the approach that we will share with other Lehigh Valley schools as well as nationally.
Who Will Benefit
The curriculum of the Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School, which includes mastery of the core academic subjects, advanced 21st Century skills, and even innovation, represents the full range of knowledge and skills cited by every major recent government and business survey of education requirements. All students will graduate with confidence and understanding of themselves, with a mastery of core academic subjects, with an understanding of business and the free market system, with experience to research and address new issues, and with experience and understanding of how to collaboratively find creative solutions to problems and opportunities. For that reason, the school aims to be a model for how other public educational institutions can transform to finally address the needs of the global creative economy.
More specifically, we see several student constituencies for which the Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School is particularly suited. First, students who now do well in the current academically focused institutions but may be bored because they are not fully challenged, can greatly broaden the value of their education. The projects provide a vehicle to take the learning as far as a student is capable, and teaches him to collaboratively apply his academic knowledge to address real problem situations and to creatively solve problems. This kind of hands-on experience will prepare the student to be productive in any job setting or to get the maximum advantage of higher education. Second, students who are turned off by the highly structured academic environment, with its focus on learning the right answers, will thrive in our hands-on, project-based approach, where questions are welcomed and work is largely student directed. Third, we have made a special effort to address students who are lost because they have not had the role models, opportunities, encouragement, and support within and beyond the school. We will engage them and open their eyes to their specific gifts, help them catch up where they may have fallen behind with project activities and individual computer-based learning, and provide opportunities for them to develop those gifts while getting the education they need to achieve their full potential.
Students with the natural interest and drive to start businesses will graduate not only with relevant knowledge about business and entrepreneurship but also with real experience in starting and growing a business. Those whose purpose is focused more on improving society or contributing to an existing organization will graduate with the confidence, fundamentals, initiative, innovation, and leadership skills to help any employer or colleague constantly advance through innovation.
The Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School is a publicly supported alternative for high school students in the Lehigh Valley under Pennsylvania's charter school law. Thus, there are no costs to attend. We plan to open in September 2013 with approximately 150-200 students in grades 9 and 10. Additional classes will be added in the next two years until the school covers grades 9-12 with approximately 400 students. If demand is as expected, attendance will also be expanded in each grade to reach 600-800 high school students. The school is located in a facility in the Wilson Area School District (West Easton) newly renovated for our use. However, students from any district in the Lehigh Valley and beyond may apply, and transportation will be provided by the home district for districts up to 10 miles from the school. As required by law, if demand exceeds available slots, students will be selected from the applicant pool by a qualifying criteria or lottery system yet to be determined. We expect the focus of the school to be the hand-on projects and other related activities that will incorporate much of why students at traditional schools look to extracurricular clubs and activities. However, students who desire can participate in sports programs and other extracurricular activities offered in their home districts, if not provided by our school.
How to Apply
The Business and Entrepreneurship Charter High School is currently seeking applicants who are interested in registering for either the 9th or10th grade starting in September 2013. Please complete the online form at the website at www.busacad.org. This form gets a student on the list for application but does not commit him or her to attend. You can also find contact information for questions at the website, and additional material will be added as development proceeds.