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What We Teach

How YE students learn the value of knowledge

Values are the principles that inform our behavior, and we believe the YE values are central to helping our students grow. Our Foundational Values are responsibility, knowledge, passion, sound judgment, be principled, freedom, opportunity and win-win focus. So we’re exploring each one, continuing with Knowledge.

“Knowledge is something we should always be constantly seeking — we can never have enough of it, and we can get it from anyone, anywhere,” says Whitney Wilson, YE Curriculum Specialist, who first taught YE at Wichita Heights High School before coming aboard with Youth Entrepreneurs. “Showing students how to find the answer was always more important to me than knowing the answer. Throughout my time in the classroom, I always tried to emphasize to students that we will never know all the answers, but we can work together to find the answers.”

Knowledge is core to entrepreneurism in a number of ways, Whitney explains. Successful entrepreneurs must have thorough knowledge of their product or service, their customer and their marketplace. “You have to be the ultimate expert in your own product or service. You have to be seeking knowledge about your customer, and how their needs and wants are changing. And since marketplaces are constantly changing, entrepreneurs need to be always learning about their market and competition.”

In today’s technology landscape, knowledge as a value is critical for students to understand. “With the Internet at their fingertips, it’s easy for students to think they already know everything. But when they learn the foundational value of knowledge, they learn that knowledge is constantly evolving. Knowledge is a journey, and you have to be willing to continue learning and growing,” Whitney says. “Knowledge doesn’t stop on graduation day. YE students are taught how to be lifelong learners.”

The YE Market Day experience, which combines a micro-loan program with a pop-up market, is fundamental in how students grasp knowledge as a value. “Students apply everything they learned throughout the school year and get to see how the knowledge they have gained comes to life,” Whitney smiles. “Whether students want to be entrepreneurs or not, it is a great exercise in applying the knowledge they have learned.”

Collaborative activities are particularly beneficial for students to understand the value of knowledge: they explore how their peers’ unique knowledge can benefit the whole team. Whitney points to an invention game, in which teams of students use craft supplies to create a new product for a specified customer. “One student may not have the knowledge needed to craft the product, but may be particularly skilled in the presentation or pitch,” Whitney says. “So they learn to draw on each others’ knowledge. The students who excel at ideation can learn from those who excel at presenting.”

Teachers cultivate the value of knowledge in their students when they give them freedom to share. “Students really can learn from each other when they know they have the freedom to share their unique perspectives,” she says. Also integral is giving students the permission to fail. “It can be hard for teachers to let students fail. But we give students a gift when we teach them that it’s okay to fail as long as we learn from it. When we let them fail and then help them gain knowledge from that failure, it’s huge.”