As an English teacher, I discovered entrepreneurship accidently. I walked into a workshop on the entrepreneurial brain. The entrepreneurial brain is constantly seeking. It envisions in unique ways things that exist, not in reality but in different ways. It is a problem-solution brain that thrives on challenges. Listening to that lecture was a moment of epiphany!
As a result of my entrepreneurial epiphany, I found a solution for teaching my Beginning Composition and Argument/ Critical Thinking composition courses at the community colleges I teach at. Both composition classes require students to write a traditional research paper in MLA format based on a current event. Both classes were low energy. Students knew what to expect, and plagiarism was rampant. Regurgitated research papers eerily similar in tone and content would turn up as original writing.
In the fall of 2015, I launched a new course, Rhetoric of Entrepreneurship. After USASBE’s 2019 conference, I created another new course, this time, for upper level English composition classes. This new class was titled Social Entrepreneurship: Write to Fight. The semester-long courses fundamentally altered the way traditional research papers for composition classes are written. By teaching English through an entrepreneurial lens, these courses serve the student community by simultaneously teaching entrepreneurship and helping more people gain an entrepreneurial mindset.
At GCC we thrive on collaboration. I became part of the Entrepreneurship cohort and worked with Business faculty who taught Entrepreneurship. The cohort regularly invites guest speakers for well-attended sessions open to everyone at the college. It also organizes student Shark Tank pitch competitions, with the winner advancing to the regional pitch competition.
As a result, my classes became collaborative. My Entrepreneurship partner, Rob Newman, and I decided to share homework as an incentive to have students from my class enroll in his too. An advantage of having joined homework and shared students was that concepts could transfer from class to class and students’ understanding of subjects was enhanced. Not only did this give an opportunity for students to view a book through a different lens, it also helped with retention. Additionally, my class worked with GCC’s Sandbox/makerspace to re-design or to make artifacts before the writing began. This kind of experiential learning made the skill of writing more tangible and real.
The course is based on five major writing assignments. The writing is a process of scaffolding on one concept to another, one genre to another, which enhances how writing could be seen as multiple structures, each structure viewed in a different light but all through the lens of entrepreneurship.
Diagnostic: the entrepreneurial mindset
Our first writing assignment is a diagnostic, which is an essay based on a student’s personal experiences. My topic for the diagnostic is “Tell me moments in your life when you have displayed an entrepreneurial mindset.” Choose any three characteristics from the 15 characteristics listed and tell me how you have embodied these characteristics with concrete examples from your own life.