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Bridging the Gap Between Traditional and Entrepreneurial Education

December 20, 2018

By: Tristian Williams

As a teenager, I stumbled upon Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. In the paperback released in 2000, the author tells the story of the different types of lessons he learned from his “smart dad” and his “rich dad.” The objective of the book was to juxtapose traditional educational with entrepreneurial education to argue that traditional education oftentimes excludes the entrepreneurial training necessary to achieve financial freedom. I learned so much more than what the author was trying to teach me, though. I saw the value in both traditional and entrepreneurial education, and sought to bridge the gap that existed between them.


Bridging the gap


As a middle-school ELA (English and language arts) teacher in the Chicago Teach for America corps, I had a lot of freedom to choose which texts I would expose my students to. I would often select nontraditional articles in Forbes or Entrepreneur that would not only highlight the grammatical and technical pieces of writing I wanted to showcase, but also expose my students to a world of business innovation they’d never had access to.


As a native Chicagoan, I deeply cared about my students from the predominantly low-income West Side. My school’s population consisted of more than 90% of students in the free lunch program, and few of them had ever been exposed to careers that weren’t popularized in the media. It was my job to teach them how to use their imaginations to make conclusions in literary texts; but I felt it was my duty to teach them how to use their imaginations to dream of new possibilities for their careers and lives. Early in my teaching career, I learned that the two methods did not have to be mutually exclusive.


After I left the classroom, I co-founded an edtech company that carried the same mission of empowering students to dream beyond the realities of their circumstances. My co-founder and I dreamt of combining our passions for entrepreneurship and videography to embolden a group of young students to build their own video-editing companies. The concept was to allow students to film and edit school-wide assemblies, performances, and graduations and sell the edited film at the conclusion of those events to parents who had only captured poor-quality cellphone videos.


This was my introduction to the edtech industry. I networked with other edtech companies and felt like I was I apart of a global community that seeks to advance technology’s impact on education. Later, I transitioned to sharing those insights in an education and business podcast that reached #1, #2, and #3 in iTunes New and Noteworthy in Education, Technology, and Business ranking, respectively, all the while operating an ad agency.


Now, as the newest team member of PR with Panache!, I spend my time supporting edtech companies by managing their pay-per-click advertising campaigns and digital strategy while providing a story-focused perspective on data analysis. I once was on the front lines working with students to impact them directly; now, I’ve maximized my impact by ensuring that edtech companies can connect with and serve their target audiences with innovative products and services.


It’s my hope that, through my work with PR with Panache!, traditional education can continue to evolve to meet the needs of modern students and educators, so there is no need to piecemeal the lessons and skills that will position students for success in their careers. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to expand the reach of your edtech company and serve your audience with a greater impact.


Thanks for sharing!

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