The field of entrepreneurship is exploding. Corporations and individuals, governments and schools, are all coming to recognize: entrepreneurship is about solving problems. Once you start to dig into problems, revise common principles and disrupt the status quo, you are starting to do what entrepreneurs do—find solutions to problems. This principle should be valid for all industries and sectors.
But how about education?
A recent infographic presented by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the United States has slipped from being a leader in education to a society of dropouts and under-achievers. The number one reasons for this phenomenon: a broken and old fashioned school system. That’s why I wanted to explore whether entrepreneurship is valid in the educational field and whether entrepreneurs can come up with the solutions to solve this problem:
After reading an article on how technology may save education for a generation facing a broken public school system and countless distractions, entrepreneurship has received plenty of attention. So, as a startup mentor, I had the chance to attend the Startup Weekend Education DC which took place from July 25th – 27th. It was the perfect event to find out more about how entrepreneurs can change education, but as well to visit startups and meet local entrepreneurs. And it was awesome! Washington D.C. has a very lively startup hub and the entrepreneurs are ready to tackle the big problems. Education is a part of it.
In an effort to come up with new ideas and concepts to improve education and the learning experience of children, around 70 attendees from and around Washington D.C. worked together on ideas and solved concrete problems. They were supported by educators which provided insights into their daily work and helped validate ideas in a real-life context. Here are the startups which were created during the 54 hours:
EdSked – Automated scheduling for principals (WINNER)
Flexicon – Duo lingo for classrooms
Education Equity – Investing into students and their future
ScholarStream – Online collaboration tool for scholars
Pedagology – On demand support for teachers
ReadEngage – The GPS of reading comprehension
GuideStride – Connecting business experts with graduate students
Faction – Note fact checking app
So, can a simple weekend save our broken education system? Absolutely! The global concept of Startup Education is a great opportunity to finally give thoughts of what exactly is not working in education. Stop playing the blame game and take action! You hear it all the time: “it’s the governments fault”, “teachers can’t deliver” or “students are simply too lazy”. I believe if more cities and people would follow the Startup Education model, more things would get done. And entrepreneurship is the most powerful force which has a largest chance to positively impact educational outcomes and disrupt the current status quo. Given the technology and the innovation we see across the world, entrepreneurs will no doubt discover the answers to further improve and disrupt the status quo of education.
I flew back to Toronto, with the feeling that something amazing is happening in Washington D.C. and generally in the education field. Hopefully I’ll be back soon, to explore in depth the scene and I would love to see more entrepreneurs working on solutions to improve education across the world.
And I end this blog post with a call to action to all of the educators, entrepreneurs, students and parents which are reading this article:
Don’t wait for permission to do something remarkable. Just start today!
What will you do?