By David Hood, Induron CEO
Back in the 1990s, I taught a Junior Achievement class to eighth graders at Tarrant Middle School, here in the Birmingham area. This was not the “project” many people associate with Junior Achievement, but an actual 50-minute class once a week for an entire semester with curricula offered by Junior Achievement. The regular Social Studies teacher remained in the classroom to help, but it was truly a “teaching experience” for me.
Tarrant is a “working class,” mixed-race suburb of Birmingham, and my classes consisted of boys, girls, black, white, motivated, not-motivated kids, just as you would expect. Some were from single-parent homes and some were from homes with both mom and dad. But many of them hadn’t had the advantages that other kids their age have had.
I started teaching this class not knowing what to expect, but soon found that most of these kids were bright, inquisitive and really interested in economics and “home business” (how I described balancing a checkbook, creating and sticking to a budget, paying taxes and getting and keeping a job).
Among the lessons I was teaching these kids was one I learned myself – that whatever problems are facing public education, one of them is definitely NOT that the kids are “dumb.”
Sure, it was a challenge for me to create lesson plans that could keep these kids interested (I imagine this is a challenge for any teacher these days), but I relished teaching them about concepts they had never considered – pricing, payroll taxes, savings (and compound interest), supply/demand curves, currencies, the stock market, meeting a payroll and even social graces like shaking hands. These are all concepts that are vital to one’s success in the business world, and I was glad that most of these kids were interested in learning about them.
My takeaway was that all these kids were missing was exposure to new concepts and a challenge to explore them. They can and will learn almost anything that we expect of them – they only need more challenge and higher expectations.
I urge you to explore ways you can help pass on the business lessons you’ve learned to kids who may not even realize they want to know about them. It’s a beneficial endeavor for both the students and teacher.
Founded in 1947, Induron manufactures high performance coatings that serve a range of industrial applications, including the wastewater, transmission and distribution and groundwater storage industries. Learn more about us at www.Induron.com.