Home > Uncategorized > WeWork’s “Conscious Entrepreneurship” Conundrum: Should Kindergartners Be Rewarded for Ambitiousness?

WeWork’s “Conscious Entrepreneurship” Conundrum: Should Kindergartners Be Rewarded for Ambitiousness?

September 26, 2018

Medium offers thought provoking articles to its subscribers, some of which are recent and others of which, like “WeWork is Going After Kindergartners Now“, are nearly a year old. Written by Bloomberg’s Irene Plagianos, the article about WeWork, whose mission is “to help people do what they love“, has launched a program for Kindergartners that helps them develop entrepreneurial skills.

In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own businesses,”(WeWork co-founder) Rebekah Neumann said in an interview. She thinks kids should develop their passions and act on them early, instead of waiting to grow up to be “disruptive,” as the entrepreneurial set puts it.

I can think of one reason why children in elementary schools might not be encouraged to launch their own business: they need a chance to experience a childhood without ambitiousness…. for in our current culture elementary school might be the last and only time children can truly experience the opportunity to be a child. And according to Ms. Plagianos, I’m not the only person who has that notion:

The hands-on, project-based learning, encouraging children to ask questions and take ownership of their education, sounds like what “progressive pedagogy has been teaching for 100 years,” said Samuel Abrams, the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

But WeWork’s “very instrumental approach” to learning, “essentially encouraging kids to monetize their ideas, at that age, is damaging,” Abrams said. “You’re sucking the joy out of education at a time when kids should just be thinking about things like how plants grow and why there are so many species.”

Ms. Neumann sloughs off that criticism, with an observation that is accurate and underscores a conundrum that comes into play when someone tries to mesh entrepreneurship with progressive education principles:

Neumann argues it’s conventional education that is “squashing out the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that’s intrinsic to all young children.”Then, after college, she said, “somehow we’re asking them to be disruptive and recover that spirit.”

Ms. Neumann’s concluding observation about how individuals pursue what they love illustrates another conundrum:

In her own family, she said, “there are no lines” between work and life or home and office. “My kids are in the office. I’m doing what I love, he’s doing what he loves, they are observing that, and they are doing what they love.

I AM certain Ms. Neumann and her spouse are doing what they love… but not so sure her kids sitting in the home office are doing what they love… especially if her kids love doing what I loved doing when I was a child, which was being outside! But maybe her children like developing business plans for their lemonade stand using powerpoint.

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