Teaching entrepreneurship to students with neurodiverse diseases
Professor Andrew Corbett visited Vermont this fall and spoke to neurodiverse students with learning differences, including commercial beekeeper Lucas Sillars, founder of Luke’s Bees.
“Some of the early research shows that individuals like this can actually become very good entrepreneurs,” said Corbett, Paul T. Babson Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson College.
People with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and dyslexia, often need special academic programs or personalized assistance tailored to neurodiverse learners.
Motivated by a desire to give back, Corbett volunteered his time and energy in October to speak to students at Landmark College, a private institution for undergraduates who learn differently.
“He made a great connection with the students,” said Tamara Stenn, Landmark Entrepreneurship Accelerator (LEAP) educational advisor, of Corbett’s interactions at the Landmark campus in Putney, Vermont. “In fact, even afterwards, they were so excited to have met him, and they loved the way he connected with them.”
Stenn invited Corbett to Landmark’s fourth annual Entrepreneurship Day to address students with learning and attention challenges.
“It was a lesson in humility to work with these students. It opened my eyes, ”Corbett said. “People like this who learn in a different way can be entrepreneurs and can be very good entrepreneurs. So, I feel like it’s Babson’s duty to be there and help, so when Tamara asked for help, I was happy to go and do it.
Teaching entrepreneurial leadership
Connected by the Academy of Management, a trade association for management and organization specialists, Corbett and Stenn met less than two years ago as fellow researchers. Most recently, Stenn submitted content for a science book Corbett is editing.
Sharing a common bond as entrepreneurship researchers and professors, Stenn believed his students could benefit from Corbett’s practical expertise.
“Taking time off from her sabbatical to come spend the day with us was really great,” she said of Corbett. “He arrived early and saw our little Idea Lab. We’re a campus of 400 students, so we don’t have a giant shared creative space like Babson.
Landmark may not have 9,800 square feet of manufacturing space like Babson’s Weissman Foundry, but Stenn said Landmark has entrepreneurship students who value entrepreneurial leadership.
“Letting my students go out and interact more professionally with other entrepreneurs, they love that,” Stenn said of his students. “We like to collaborate. “
“The way we teach Babson and what we do – experiencing it real, practical, practical – also works very well for this group. “
Andrew Corbett, professor at Babson College
Inclusive education in action
Speaking to a group of around 20 Landmark students outdoors and using colorful graphics, lots of movement, and eye contact, Corbett asked the students to brainstorm a full-fledged business concept and develop the idea into a feasible business.
For the most part, however, Corbett used the same experiential teaching approach he used at Babson when he was with the Landmark students. “It’s inclusion,” Corbett said. “What’s interesting about this is that I had to make some differences in the way I approached and engaged them – I had to be strong – but learning from experience is, for the most part. of those students out there, the best way for them to engage. This is what we do at Babson.
“The way we teach Babson and what we do – experiencing it for real, hands-on, hands-on – also works very well for this group,” Corbett added. “So I didn’t have to change much from that point of view. “
Starting his day early, Corbett made his way to the Landmark campus and spent around seven hours interacting with the students before returning home. He described the full day experience as rewarding.
“It was a pleasure for me to go,” he said of Landmark’s fourth annual Entrepreneurship Day event, which incorporated a theme around solar panels this year. “I really had a lot of fun too. It was a nice day.
Stenn echoed these sentiments and thanked Corbett for providing a true Babson College experience at the Landmark campus. “We had a wonderful day together,” she said. “I’m glad we now have an ally. “
Among the students Corbett interacted with that day was Sillars, the entrepreneur who started Luke’s Bees. Corbett described Sillars as a role model for those who learn differently.
“In many ways he resembled our Babson students,” Corbett said of Sillars, an entrepreneurship student at Landmark. “He does beekeeping, makes honey, repackages it in the region, sells honey in stores and also makes other things from honey. … It’s really super.”
Reflecting the real-world entrepreneurial experience to help students generate ideas for a startup is the Babson method. “This is what we teach Babson,” Corbett said. “We believe in the Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® methodology, and we believe that, if you wish, we can help you find out how to become an entrepreneur. “
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