WeWork says its mission is to help people do what they adoration. Now the office-sharing monster is testing that ethos on a smaller clientele: kindergartners.
$20 billion startup, built on a vast network of hip co-working spaces where entrepreneurs and freelances rent desks, is stimulating its move into children’s education, launching a private elementary school for” awareness entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall. A pilot program of 7 students, including one of the 5 young children of WeWork Cos. founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann, is under way.
” In my book, there’s no reason why children in elementary schools can’t be launching their own business ,” Rebekah Neumann said in an interview. She supposes kids should develop their fervours and act on them early, instead of waiting to grow up to be “disruptive,” as the entrepreneurial specify puts it.
Adam and Rebekah Neumann
Photographer: Patrick McMullan/ Getty Images
The students–this pilot crop is five to eight years old–spend one day at a 60 -acre farm and the rest of the week in a classroom near the company’s Manhattan headquarters, where they get lessons in business from both the workers and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. Neumann, who attended the elite New York City prep school Horace Mann and Cornell University, investigating Buddhism and business, said she’s” rethinking the whole idea of what an education intends” but is “non-compromising” on academic criteria. The students will have to meet or exceed all of the state’s benchmarks for topics such as math and reading.
At the farm, which the Neumanns bought last year,” if they are learning math, they are not just sitting in a classroom learning about numbers. They are also applying numbers to run their farm stand, they’re reading about natural cycles of plant life ,” she said.” It’s a very hands-on approach to discovering .”
WeWork’s education ambitions are the latest offshoot of the rapidly growing company’s “We” brand, which promotes a seamless integration of meaningful work and a purpose-driven existence–make a life , not just a living, the motto goes. Last time, the company unveiled “co-living” residencies under WeLive, afforded apartments in houses with shared amenities, schemed events and communal spaces( here’s
what that’s like ). Last month came Rise by We–a facility that features gym equipment, co-ed saunas and yoga grades that connect “wellness” and spirituality with entrepreneurism–and a coding boot camp. It is a brand, atop a real estate leasing company, that some critics say is overvalued.
With their foray into schooling, the Neumanns join a developing listing of entrepreneurial billionaires trying to reshape American education with their affect and investments. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, along with other tech entrepreneurs, for example, are
investing in public, charter and private school that use technology to foster personalized education. While there’s broad agreement that the nation’s education system has its failings, the solutions are specially fraught because the beneficiaries, or guinea pigs, are children.
Here and below, supplies of the planned school by the architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group( BIG ).
The kids have already gotten lessons from the Neumanns’ employees in creating a brand and using effective sales techniques, and from Adam Neumann on furnish and demand. Mentorships with WeWork customer-entrepreneurs are available.” Basically, anything they might want to learn, we have people in the field that they are able teach it ,” Rebekah Neumann said. When one of their students, an eight-year-old girl named Nia, stimulated T-shirts to sell at the farm stand the children run,” we noticed she has a strong aptitude and passion for designing ,” Neumann said. She is fastening an apprenticeship with fashion designer who rent space from WeWork.
The hands-on, project-based learning, promoting children to ask questions and take ownership of training courses, sounds like what” progressive pedagogy has been teaching for 100 years ,” said Samuel Abrams, the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
But WeWork’s” very instrumental approach” to see,” essentially promoting kids to monetize their ideas, at that age, is injury ,” Abrams said.” You’re sucking the exhilaration out of education at a time when children should just be thinking about things like how plants grow and why there are so many species .”
Neumann argues it’s conventional education that is” squashing out the entrepreneurial spirit and imagination that’s intrinsic to all young children .” Then, after college, she said,” somehow we’re asking them to be disruptive and recover that spirit .”