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Life Lessons From a 4th Grader

By Melissa Doppler, Community Relations Manager

If you’re a parent or teacher, you know that kids are remarkably insightful. They can also be a lot more honest and direct than adults. Free from the restraints that society will soon impose on them, a child will often ask questions or make an observation that can be surprisingly perceptive. I got to witness this firsthand recently.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of teaching our flagship entrepreneurship education program, BizWorld, to a classroom full of bright, energetic 4th grade students. This was a pretty big deal for me. I’m not a qualified teacher, but with a great training session under my belt from our Education Manager, and the security of a seasoned teacher in the classroom, I wore my “teacher’s hat”, took a deep breath and enjoyed two of the best days I can recall having in recent times.

In addition to providing a fundamental understanding of entrepreneurship, business, and financial responsibility, BizWorld teaches students invaluable 21st Century skills that will last a lifetime. In BizWorld, students learn to work together in teams, practice critical thinking, and engage in hands-on, creative problem solving to run a business.

As the classroom was divided into teams or “companies” and students were assigned a role (CEO, VP of Marketing, Design, Manufacturing, Sales or Finance), there were many opportunities for them to make team decisions. They negotiated over individual responsibilities and made financial decisions together. They also struggled with the fairness of situations where there was no clear winner and made joint decisions that would ultimately decide how successful their budding companies would be.

It was inspiring to see how sensitive the kids were to relational nuances and team dynamics. They pulled together when they needed to, and worked through their struggles when they arose.

At the end of day two, I asked for feedback from the students. We talked about areas where their companies were successful and needed improvement. The kind of comments I heard were, “we didn’t work well together as a team”, “at first I wasn’t happy with the role I was given, but now I realize how important it is and that every role is important” and “it doesn’t matter if you aren’t as successful as someone else, it’s how you feel about yourself that is important”.

As I listened to their self-evaluations, it made me think that we could take a leaf out of their books ­ — to be humble, work hard and be aware of how we measure our successes in life. At the end of two days with those 4th graders, I considered myself very fortunate indeed!

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