What Our High School Education Didn’t Teach Us

Education is a term that is loosely applied to learning in a systematized approach. When many of us graduate high school, we’re groomed for one of two options.

  1. Pursue university to gain entry into a chosen professional practice or job tailored to the degree you studied.
  2. Get a job in a field that doesn’t require tertiary education.

What if there was another option?

An option where you learn how to create a business in high school, to test what you might actually be effective at outside of your prescribed curriculum and actually make a career out of it? A chance to focus on something you love and choose to pour your work hours into pursuing this goal?

As a millennial, these opportunities were rare in my high school education. The skills needed in entrepreneurship and business range from perseverance to navigating obstacles with all the tools at your disposal. Whatever stage of business or life you’re at, these are applicable tools for almost all situations.

We didn’t learn this in high school. In fact, I didn’t learn this in my tertiary education either.

Understanding and Perseverance

A person’s long-term career success is determined by empathy, creativity, perseverance, self-improvement and innovation, according to some of the world’s most successful CEO’s.

Learning to be empathetic creates team bonding and resonance. Creativity allows you to look at mundane tasks in a new light. Perseverance is what allows you to keep going when a project or sale falls through. These are tools that are usable in every situation, not just the workplace.

The Disconnect Between Success and Education

So why are they not actively teaching and cultivating these skills for high schoolers and beyond?

Many of the technical skills that you learn in school are outdated by the time you graduate.

But, what does stick though is the theory and strategic viewpoint. Everybody knows the basic laws of physics because they’re consistently applied in our day to day movements in the world. So why aren’t more of the principles and theories that determine long-term success taught to us earlier?

Award-winning startup program designer and TEDx speaker Frank Pobutkiewicz, who hosts the Global Startup Challengebelieves the same things.

He runs an annual event that is essentially a weeklong crash course for high school students in everything from perseverance and innovation in creating a minimum viable product that can go to market. He’s had students who generated over $40,000 in sales in just 120 days.

I had a chance to unpack his perspective. As I learned more, I became even more passionate about the concept of education relevance.

Pobutkiewicz explains, “High school students are the most undervalued segment of our population. What high school students are capable of doing is so much higher than what we expect from them as a society.” I agree with Frank.

It feels like society expects only those who have an official education can actually start a company or perform skilled work. These skills, though, don’t help us execute our ideas when times get tough.

It’s All About Feeling Able and Empowered

In high school, I never would have known I could create a business (or even allowed to), and certainly lacked the mentality or education to do so. Businesses and educators will soon start to see the value in teaching our emerging leaders to be patient, empathetic and courageous.

Until then, you’re going to have to look to find the bridge between formal education and real world entrepreneurship by exploring the skills that aren’t taught in the classroom. Programs like the Global Startup Challenge are bridging the gap, but like everything else, high schools and educational curriculums need to catch up.

The people who want to learn and succeed are already looking beyond the classroom and their jobs. They’re learning that success is a gradual journey of self-improvement in all areas of life, not just the technical aspects we’re taught from our educational system.

Wherever you are on your journey, remember that the skills that determine long-term success aren’t taught in school; you need to earn them outside of the classroom.

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