ELI team members Gary Schoeniger, Joanie Weber, and Nic Houle attended this year’s Enspire Conference in Cleveland, OH. While there we were inspired and engaged by the impactful speakers, but more importantly by the passionate teachers and educators that we met from around the Midwest and the country.
On Friday, author Ted Dintersmith provided the audience with a call to action that rings true for the ELI family: the world is changing more rapidly than ever before, and we are not adequately preparing our students to succeed. As Dintersmith explained, students are essentially graded on their ability to memorize material, replicate simple procedures, and follow instructions. This is a recipe for young adults that are maladaptive to our rapidly changing world. Dintersmith provided some hope, however, in highlighting success stories of teachers preparing students to think collaboratively, creatively, and critically. In his new book “What School Could Be,” he chronicles the successes and the failures of the contemporary American school system, with insights from all 50 states.
After Ted’s talk, Rebecca Baelen, a doctoral student in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania presented on the importance of mindfulness, as well as the pitfalls of using it ineffectively in the classroom. Her research focuses on developing and testing mindfulness-based interventions for teachers and students. Taking an audience of 500 people through a brief practice of mindfulness techniques, as well as presenting research on the impacts of mindfulness on stress in the classroom was illuminating and inspiring. Baelen expertly wove together the work of Angela Duckworth, author of the popular book “Grit” with the importance of mindfulness to managing and coping with stress, as a teacher, and within the classroom.
Throughout the weekend, the ELI team had the chance to discuss issues that teachers are facing in their classrooms, as well as in their administrations and communities. While many face bureaucratic battles, challenging student bodies and increased pressure to increase student performance using outdated and inadequate assessment tools, there is also hope. Hope that entrepreneurship can, in fact, impact students in ways that allow themselves, their communities, and their societies to thrive. The Young Entrepreneur Institute, along with the Burton D. Morgan Foundation are working to empower young people throughout the Northeast Ohio region and beyond.
ELI is committed to impacting the world with entrepreneurial mindset education. The Enspire Conference is a reminder that despite the challenges to disrupt education, the need for entrepreneurial activity is paramount.