KATE HAGGARD DREAMS OF ONE DAY RUNNING HER OWN RESTAURANT, but first the Monarch High School senior must digest concepts like surplus, speculatory risk, equilibrium and contingency plan. Haggard, 17, is one of 90 students from Monarch High in Boulder, Colorado, participating in the school's new High School of Business program.
"I am able to take a look at how businesses do things so that I can apply those techniques to my own endeavors in the future." (1)
Monarch High is one of 25 schools piloting the High School of Business program, an accelerated business administration program developed by Columbus, Ohio-based MBAResearch and Curriculum Center. The program uses a heavily project-based pedagogy to teach a curriculum modeled after college business administration programs.
A Need for Change
MBA Research regularly researches business-related careers, higher education, and secondary education as they translate into education standards, curriculum and other custom projects. While scanning the business and education environment a few years ago, we identified some troubling trends:
* Of the high percentage of college freshmen majoring in the areas of business administration, many have never taken a business or marketing course (outside of computer applications) in high school. (2)
* Key studies of business professionals indicate that new hires (both high school and college grads) lack the skills necessary to perform well at work: problem solving, collaboration, oral and written communication, and other 21st century skills. College professors and business professionals are concerned about a lack of mental flexibility in young adults, making it very difficult for them to solve problems and deal with the ambiguity that often accompanies challenging projects. Many secondary students are unable to make the connection between their work in the classroom and its application in the real world.
Outside of the classroom walls, factors in the business world are impacting how future leaders should be educated as well:
* Lack of ethics in decision-making has led to the demise of multiple big businesses, often with catastrophic consequences. Think Enron, Arthur Andersen, and Tyco.
* Business has flowed out of the U.S. at a break-neck pace; other nations have gained strength both academically and economically. And this has only intensified in recent months.
* Poor business decisions by business executives resulted in the failure of countless companies and the downward spiral of the economy.
* Due to inadequate personal finance knowledge, many Americans have made poor personal financial decisions, resulting in growing numbers of foreclosures, bankruptcies, etc. The evidence for change was substantial as it filled whiteboards on our conference room walls. From it, these conclusions were drawn:
High School of Business must be:
* Focused on 21st century skills (3)
* Taught by committed, topnotch teachers
* Connected to higher education
* Supported beyond classroom walls
* Held accountable for learning
* Connected to real-world skill sets
Does this list look familiar? Some are probably issues you face every day. Here's
a peek into our process for facing these challenging goals head-on, with hopes that our learning can help you and your students.
Addressing the "What's in it for Me?" Syndrome
Can we really separate the content from the delivery? We decided early on that we didn't think so. No matter how "right on" our content is, if the students aren't interested and engaged, they won't experience meaningful learning. So, the question of "What's in it for me?" from the perspective of the student needed to be addressed in tandem with building an accelerated curricula. …