The Rise of The Edupreneur

…each of us has known mutations in the mind

When the world jumped and what had been a plan

Dissolved and rivers gushed from what had seemed a pool.

For every static world that you or I impose

Upon the real one must crack at times and new

Patterns from new disorders open like a rose

And old assumptions yield to new sensation;

The Stranger in the wings is waiting for his cue,

The fuse is always laid to some annunciation.

-Louis MacNeice

Watching the shifting European geopolitical landscape in the 1940’s, MacNeice wrote prophetically about change.  In education, the landscape is changing. Higher expectations, new tools and new schools are causing many of us to reconsider mental models; our “world jumped and what had been a plan dissolved and rivers gushed from what had been a pool.”  Our “static world” has cracked and new patterns are emerging (and not all look like roses).

Politicians had a big influence–some positive, some negative–on American education in the last decade. In this decade it’s the education entrepreneurs, what Anya Kamenetz and others have called edupreneurs, that are having a big impact on the opportunity set for young people. A writer called last week and we discussed the rise of the edupreneurs

What is success for an edupreneur? Being an edupreneur means creating a new capacity. It could be a new tool or a new school, a new way to learn or a new way to share. Some teach, some lead, some fix, edupreneurs start something new.

Impact is my second criteria: measurable benefit for students and teachers. That implies a scalable and sustainable capacity.

What characteristics do edupreneurs have in common? Edupreneurs have different profiles and backgrounds, but most are mission-driven. Edupreneurs are typically smart, driven, and impact oriented–that’s what makes working with edupreneurs so rewarding.

When I think about the 500 people and organizations we recognized in August Smart Lists, persistence is the second factor that comes to mind.  Most of the edupreneurs that sprung to prominence recently have been hard at work for a couple decades. They built school networks, college access organizations, ELA and math resources, new apps and platforms, and site to learn almost anything. They built products and organizations in spite of big barriers and few investors.

What’s most encouraging? The unprecedented inflow of talent over the last 48 months is really encouraging. All the smart kids want to work in education–they see the opportunity to build impact organizations.

All of the investment (philanthropic, government, private) in creating new tools and schools is not only improving learning opportunities for youth, it is Improving Conditions & Careers of educators.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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pascaline chelimo kitur

Wow i like the this page and it is really encouraging to learn that people are working to improve conditions and learning. I am really touched because my son is dyslexic and i have struggled a lot with him. it is unfortunate that we do not have schools for this kind of disability in my country and again most people do not really understand dyslexia. i am interested in learning more on how to handle dyslexic kids so that i can help those who suffer in silence without knowing what to do. with the experience i have had with my son, i hope to start a school in future for this kids. i am already following you on twitter my twitter handle is @Pchelimo.

Mark Eichenlaub

On this same topic I wrote about teachers supplementing or replacing their teaching income through blogging here:
I appreciate your work on this topic Tom!

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