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What We Teach

How we teach Freedom in YE

In Youth Entrepreneurs, we call the principles that guide behavior Foundational Values. These YE values are at the heart of our curriculum and integral in helping our students grow. Our Foundational Values are responsibility, knowledge, passion, sound judgment, be principled, freedom, opportunity and win-win focus. We’re taking a look at each one, diving now into Freedom.

“When we talk about freedom, we talk about respecting the rights of others and studying the links between freedom, entrepreneurship and societal well-being,” explains Whitney Wilson, Curriculum Specialist. “Freedom is your right to have a choice when it comes to what you do with your life.”

But it isn’t always an easy value to define for students. “Freedom creates value in your life — but we also want students to understand that it’s a privilege to have freedom. Not everyone has the freedoms we have in our country, and we want students to learn how to protect that freedom. YE students learn how important it is to have the right to choose.”

Students engage with the value of freedom through the way YE is structured. “What makes our classroom unique is that students have the freedom to participate or not,” Whitney explains. “There are also consequences to choosing not to participate. Students are allowed to choose, while also learning that every choice has a consequence, and you need to be accountable for what happens as a result of your choice.” For example, choosing not to participate in an activity could mean a student doesn’t get to earn classroom currency.

Another activity where students experience the value of freedom is the Paper Airplane Factory. “We don’t prescribe to students what role they should take in the activity,” she says. A student may struggle to fly a paper airplane, but be very successful in constructing the planes, and there’s freedom to choose the role in which they will thrive. 

“We want every student, regardless of what career path they choose, to see the value of freedom and always try to create freedom in their workplace,” Whitney explains. “It’s been shown that economic freedom leads to healthier, happier people, as well as a longer lifespan and more prosperity. Being free to be an entrepreneur and to pursue the things you want in life — that’s a huge value.”

Whitney reflects on moments from her own YE classroom during Market Day. “I had students who would want to sell a specific item, and then would feel upset when another student wanted to sell that same item,” she says. “That led to great conversations about how everyone is free to sell what they want to sell, and it’s up to us as entrepreneurs to make our products more competitive. Having that Market Day experience is great for kids to understand that it’s about having a competitive product and business; it makes the student think through what will set them apart from the rest. You have the freedom to do that as an entrepreneur.”

“YE gives students a unique perspective on freedom,” Whitney says. “Students are familiar with the basics, like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But in YE, we build on this by teaching students the importance of your personal freedom to pursue all of your rights, and how your personal freedoms affect our country and our economy as a whole. We afford our students the chance to see how all these freedoms affect our life, and why it’s important to protect those freedoms.”

Explore more of the Youth Entrepreneurs Foundational Values on our blog.