Following the decision to introduce a new entrepreneur program at Carmel, we set about investigating the best of the best currently available. After a period of intensive research our Principal, Shula Lazar, headed to the USA to find out more about her preferred option: the Uncharted Learning course.
The task seemed simple enough (NOT!): uncover the best high school entrepreneurship program in the world and work out how to offer this program at Carmel.
Honestly, I didn't know much about entrepreneurship, but I do know about education. Like all the successful teaching implemented here at Carmel, I knew the program needed to be explicit, comprehensive, knowledge-based and experience enhanced.
I researched what other schools are currently offering in Australia and found their programs largely to be 'flash in the pan'; weekly or fortnightly experiences where students had oodles of fun trying to think of a cool gadget they could sell, or a way to desalinate the ocean and hydrate the entire African continent. But these programs do not explicitly teach the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to set up and run a business. Their brevity meant that students did not have the time to build an entrepreneurial mindset where there is time for both failure and pivot/redirection. And so I widened the search to see if there was a program run anywhere in the world that would fit the bill.
After weeks of research, I came across an article that spoke about the 'top 10 high school entrepreneurship programs in the US', and I then systematically investigated each one. The standout of that list for me was definitely 'Uncharted Learning', a program based in Chicago. Given the importance of finding the right program for this venture, I needed to see the course firsthand so off to Chicago I travelled, thankfully before the world was overrun with coronavirus.
The winter chill of Chicago in January could not dampen the excitement and enthusiasm of the students I met. I visited four schools that use run the Uncharted Learning course, including their mxINCedu, INCubatoredu and ACCELeratoredu programs.
Aside from meeting the educators, I interrogated the students about their experiences. And all the students I spoke to loved it! Students spoke of the independence this program brought them, how it enhanced their public speaking and communication skills. One Year 11 student commented that he was able to tackle his sister's University business assignments because of the knowledge and skills provided by Uncharted Learning program. These students knew how to budget, forecast, legally set up a company, file for a patent and deal with intellectual property. They had negotiated and bargained and made contact and connections with suppliers, manufacturers, lawyers, marketing companies and web designers. Students noted that this course had helped them work collaboratively, think creatively, learn from failure, be accountable, give and receive feedback and improve their self-discipline.
I am thrilled that Carmel School will be the first school in Australia to offer the Uncharted Learning program. Anna, our entrepreneurship educator extraordinaire, will Australianise the content when needed (AFL rather than baseball, sales of Vegemite instead of peanut butter and jelly) but ensure that it still retains its global relevance.
These are exciting times for Carmel as we trailblaze our way to becoming the leader in High School Entrepreneurship!
You can read more about the program here.