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With most of America’s 76 million students currently being homeschooled, this gives the nation’s school systems an opportunity to improve decades-old practices. I’m always seeking the silver lining in things, and in my opinion, this is a great use of time and energy during shutdowns.
Kids have access to many learning apps and platforms, but school districts, teachers unions and colleges have been resistant to change. Mentors give students a perspective outside of the traditional education system, as well as offer a glimpse of what things are like in the real world. Such coaching is valuable in fields like business, technology and sciences, where there are many insights to be learned not found in textbooks.
Mentoring also helps future graduates to join an evolving U.S. economy in which 52 percent of workers will be gig workers by 2023, according to a 2018 study by MBO Partners. The practice is effective in the corporate world, too: CNBC reported that 91 percent of workers who have mentors are satisfied in their jobs. Here’s how mentors help mentees join tomorrow’s workforce.
Forward thinkers view education as a service, not a brick-and-mortar location. U.S. STEM education needs a major overhaul after ranking 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 developed countries in 2015. That’s after significantly outspending Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries; America spends $12,800 per student on elementary and high school education (compared to $9,500 for OECD countries) and $30,000 per student at the post-secondary level (compared to $16,100 for OECD).
Great mentors provide a perspective on professional trends, the global economy and post-secondary education, whereas relying solely on teachers and guidance counselors could limit one’s perspective.
Tech entrepreneurship programs for kids like Alex Hodara’s Rocket Club and Elon Musk’s Ad Astra School are changing the STEM landscape by teaching and gamifying entrepreneurship, engineering, networking and other professional skills. New York-area Rocket Club also features a mentorship program of successful entrepreneurs including Mr. Wonderful, Marcus Lemoni and Chris Zarou, founder of Visionary Music and a Forbes “30 Under 30” honoree.
Mentors like Chris advise Rocket Club’s 7-14-year-old members throughout the launch of their first businesses while teaching members business lessons not found in textbooks. “Our members are learning the art of entrepreneurship during a time of their lives when they have so few limiting beliefs,” says Alex Hodara, founder of Rocket Club. “Being able to discuss their business model, branding, income statement, etc. with mentors like Chris is something that I wish I was able to do when I was a kid.”
Each day, students participate in Rocket Club Live, where they engage in engineering and entrepreneurship trivia, ask questions to industry leaders and interact with like-minded peers.
Aside from offering sound advice, a good mentor often holds a mentee accountable in a way that others can’t. That’s partly because mentees typically share their professional objectives, and therefore have an objective third party who reminds them of challenges and milestones ahead. A good mentor discourages a protege from getting distracted or discouraged and provides a morale boost when school, or life in general, gets tough. In high school and elementary, too many kids fall through the cracks simply by not having an emotional support system.
Learning From Subject Matter Experts
Another trend is bringing subject matter experts into virtual classrooms and training programs. A longstanding criticism of traditional education is its emphasis on passive reading of outdated texts. Students are graduating into a competitive marketplace that demands updated skills in fields like programming, digital marketing, blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotics.
When education is viewed as a service, there’s a premium placed on curated content, not brick-and-mortar classrooms. It’s expert content and practical skills that give future job applicants an opportunity to find high-paying employment.
Affiliate Institute (Ai) is an online source for anyone who wants to start an affiliate marketing venture. Founder Mathieu Jang provides instruction on “what works now” and only brings in the best marketing experts. He views traditional education as offering outdated or irrelevant content. “Affiliate Institute has helped earn over $100 million for the businesses our students work with,” says Jang, whose intensive 12-week Accelerator Program helps students to optimize their affiliate marketing operations. Students of all age groups receive a certificate that gives them the option of finding employment after completing the course.
One of my favorite Confucius quotes goes like this, “I hear and I forget … I do and I understand.” Mentors give students an edge when it comes to navigating their educational and professional careers. I’m also a huge believer in learning by practical application, and this mentor-experience movement is a perfect example of that.