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If You Don’t Own A Business, Don’t Teach Business

Jamaican Lecturer, Author, Entrepreneur opens up to FLOW’s Darron Hilaire

Someone who has never run a business should not teach business because he or she is doing a disservice to the students.

Such sentiment was expressed by the author of the book – The Full Student, lecturer, life coach and businessman Kadeem Leslie, who was a guest on Monday’s FLOW in the Morning’s Awakening Possibility with Darron Hilaire.

Kadeem Leslie

The straight A’s, six-figure entrepreneur, who is also an accomplished cellist, performing for international celebrities and heads of state, said until a teacher runs a business, he or she would not understand the intricacies of what it takes to run one other than by theory only.

“If I am trying to learn business principles in a textbook that was written five, six, seven, ten years ago, it is not applicable in running a business today,” the Jamaican-born entrepreneur, who lives in New Jersey said.

“If my business textbook, for example, is not telling me about Facebook marketing, then that’s a huge chunk that’s missing. I didn’t get that from any business textbook at least up until a certain point.

“So, then you need teachers like that to come into the classroom and say, ‘I understand that the textbook says this, but here is my personal experience, and here is what I experienced with my business, my life and let me also introduce you to some of my friends in the same sphere,” he added.

Speaking about schooling in general and how it impacts learning, Leslie argued that the trouble with school is that it attempts to teach a mass number of people, using a one-size-fits-all method, which he said does not work for everybody.

“If you talk to the critics of school, they will tell you that there are little alternatives to teach so many people and educate the masses. The trouble is that standardized testing is not a great fit for everyone.

“There are students who thrive in school and they do great at it, but to get that one-on-one attention, which is what higher education is meant to be in the first place, you need to have someone that is actually looking after you…to develop your skills, develop your life holistically, and not just to teach you about one subject or two subjects,” he contended.

“Leslie added: “For that reason, college is not necessarily the information that you learn that’s sometimes life-changing, but sometimes the people that you meet within the university context. So, for example, there are professors who have realistically changed my life. There are teachers in my high school that have realistically changed my life. And so, for those people, I am eternally grateful. And it wasn’t necessarily the things that they taught in class, but the things that they taught me outside of class…the people that they introduced to me outside of class, the things that they said to me inside and outside of class, let me know that they actually believe in me and believe in my potential. And now moving forward as a teacher, I was able to do that now.”

Leslie, who asserted that many students are underserved by the education system, is hoping that his book – The Full Student - would assist in allowing them to see through another prism of education.

“The schools are not serving them the way they needed to be served. So then, I hope that The Full Student fills a little bit of that gap. Perhaps we could teach students how to learn, how to actually ace classes, because, for a lot of students, before you get to 20-21, that’s how you are judged, whether you are successful or not.

“Being good in school is a big part of your value system and your identity. So then, if you have this framework for how to do it, then perhaps, okay, you can release a little bit of that pressure, and then you would have some more time to dedicate to things that you want to do, which are not pertaining to school,” he recommended.

He advised that school should never be equated with learning because there are bad teachers and there are good teachers, and to this end, if one gets a bad teacher, would probably hate learning. On the contrary, if one gets a good teacher, that individual would more than likely love learning.

“On one hand there are people who are definitely turned off by school, and it ruins their learning experiences, and then they equate learning with school. And then, there are some who have had the best of experiences.

“There are people who go to school, and they meet awesome teachers and school is like, that’s their zone. And to both of these students, ‘The Full Student’ is not just to get you to graduation at high school or graduation as a college student but thinking beyond that.

In the meantime, Leslie reasoned that education is a lifelong process, which goes beyond college. He has observed older folk getting back into the learning system, as they expand their professionalism.

“The learning process does not stop. And you can see that a lot of adults, once they graduate college, that’s the last time that they read a book. But that does not exist today. We even have people in their 40s, 50s going to professional school, where they are learning new skills as professionals…that is happening today, not so much in the past,” he said.

Leslie further noted: “Setting you up for a lifetime of learning, which in today’s economy, separates people who are average from people who are excellent. And that’s what we need…people who are excellent, people who are learning, people who are dynamic, people who are full.”

In the meantime, he said he is not ruling out returning to Jamaica or traversing other parts of the world to assist young black men realize the value of learning.


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