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What We Teach

Why we teach responsibility in YE

Values are the principles that guide our behavior, and we believe our values are integral in leading students and alumni to fulfilling and meaningful lives. Our Foundational Values are responsibility, knowledge, passion, sound judgment, be principled, freedom, opportunity and win-win focus. And we’re excited to introduce the heart behind each one, starting with responsibility: no one will ever be as concerned about your success as you.
 
“What’s wonderful about these values is that they’re not just applicable in business or in school,” says Grant Mankin, Dallas-Fort Worth Area Director for Youth Entrepreneurs (YE). “They are life lessons! If the students can start to use these values in relevant ways, it leads to a better life.
 
Many people think of responsibility in terms of the dictionary definition; to use it in a sentence, we’d talk about taking responsibility for our own actions. “But YE takes it a step further,” Grant says. “The beautiful thing about responsibility is the understanding that it’s true freedom. Responsibility brings up the idea of choice. That’s why responsibility can be such a hard thing to understand and then convey in the classroom.”
 
Teaching responsibility in the classroom is central to inspiring students to push past obstacles. “We’re seeing more and more students who are afraid to fail, so they don’t try and don’t take responsibility. But we want students to understand that if they want the good things that come with freedom, there are going to be some bumps along the way. Owning those bumps in the road is just as important as owning the good things that will come.”
 
Also directly connected to responsibility, Grant explains, is courage. “If YE can help impact a classroom culture where a student can grow in courage, have the courage to fail, and then be praised for the art of trying, then that will embolden them to be responsible going forward,” he says.

Responsibility is central to entrepreneurism because an entrepreneur must hold themselves personally accountable for the results of their actions, Grant says. “An entrepreneur has to be willing to hold themselves accountable for the successes, failures, results of everything they have done. Talk to any entrepreneur about their story, almost every entrepreneur’s story will involve their biggest failure, and they understand the important relationship that success has to responsibility. It’s easy to take responsibility for success. But the really fulfilled people are just as willing and eager to take responsibility for their failures.”
 
“It’s a common complaint that today’s students are just looking for handouts, they don’t want to try, they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions. But they will grow to become more responsible when we do a better job of teaching them the joys of risk and the joys of success. If our students can focus on the idea that they can choose success, then they take steps towards responsibility. And this group of students, this generation, will be all the much more successful for it,” Grant says.
 
Students learn responsibility in their YE classroom in a number of ways. One activity in particular that drives the value of responsibility is the PIT Game. The game simulates a commodity market. “There’s always a learning moment when a student sees someone cheating in the game and wants the teacher to intervene or to punish them. But in that moment, the teachers can talk about responsibility. We’re going to face failures, but when you have the courage to take responsibility for what’s happening in your life, then you’re able to make better decisions going forward. Students learn that sometimes our mistakes can be the pathway to our success.”
 
The entrepreneurial mindset shift cultivates responsibility in students as well, Grant explains. “Lots of times we talk about responsibility in conjunction with success, but in the YE classroom, it’s bigger than that. Responsibility is integral not only in business and in entrepreneurship, but in life as well. It’s integral to changing the trajectory of their life.”
 
Ultimately, students become equipped to take charge of their own future — because your most valuable asset, students learn, is you. “The minute students realize they’re in charge of their own destiny is the minute they make a change for the better at home, in school and far beyond that.”