Pay attention to your “entrepreneurial gene”

Milton Adams has had an extraordinary career and life. He started out in public housing in East Harlem, New York, traveled to three continents, and then brought him back to New York City to experience the events of September 11, 2001 firsthand.

He claims to have an “entrepreneurial gene” which has prompted him to have new experiences and, more recently, to create new businesses. Whichever way you choose to label it, it gotand continue to havea remarkable career. It is the one that demonstrates how individual agency can lead a career, and where entrepreneurship becomes visible relatively late in life.

Adams’ career developments are listed in the table below. However, the table does not connect the dots. Every movement stems from him which gives personal meaning to his life and career and takes the initiative to explore new frontiers.

Over a period of 25 years, these initiatives took him between the United States and Guyana, in South America and Mexico, and between the United States and Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa. With each move, he gained new experience before returning to New York in 1994 to support his ailing mother and a brother in need of kidney dialysis. From that point on, his “entrepreneurial gene,” as he would call it, found more room to express itself.

As the first project after returning home, he worked and filed two patents for improvements in educational technology. He collaborated with another brother to commercialize his patent for a hydroelectric generator and developed his own patent for a dual-screen multifunctional device called an “e-book”. This was in 1997, long before Amazon’s major push into the online book market. He traveled across Asia in search of a manufacturing partner and negotiated a letter of agreement with Singapore Industries, at the time the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic components. However, any understanding collapsed when the East Asian economy fell into recession.

He was alone on the morning of September 11, 2001, and after seeing the Twin Towers collapse, he wanted to help his city get back on its feet. He attended a public elementary school in Harlem and applied to become a substitute teacher. The principal noted his extensive experience and recommended him to a middle school that could use his expertise by focusing on both at-risk and specialist students. The school closed a year later, but on the recommendation of the principal, Adams was granted tenure as a permanent replacement in the host geographic area where he was teaching. The position gave him a regular salary, health and dental insurance and pension rights accrued until his retirement. He appreciated the stability of his life.

In college, he led a research project under Title VII of the Education Act. The intention was to encourage teachers to use educational “constructions” common to all subjects and all classes. Relevant constructionsfor example, acceleration, cycle, circulation and displacementconvey abstract ideas in the same way in different fields of knowledge, and the team made a point of introducing a term each week in their own courses to the same group of students. The team made enough progress to successfully demonstrate a theory of “Construct Literacy” which they presented at the American Education Research Association conference in 2002.

Fast forward to Adams’ retirement in 2013, life with his new partner, Anne, more free time and six years later experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. He continued and became more involved in the challenge of literacy by construction, and created a prototype online research lab, ConstructLab, to continue it.

In another initiative, he took online courses in three programming languages ​​(HTML / CSS, JavaScript, and Python) while in self-quarantine and experienced the common frustration of encountering obscure error messages, a cause of high dropout rates among coding students. . So he ran a second website, an error management system for coders, to help other novice coders manage and learn from their mistakes. Both initiatives reflect its long-term exposure to the advancement of education around the world.

As for the Builds Literacy website, it strives to confirm around one hundred universal builds that have common meaning in the sciences, arts, humanities, and professions. These constructions underpin his approach to the construction of literacy, that is, the approach to literacy by focusing on built, rather than an arbitrary vocabulary.

Adams’s literacy website is designed for three groups of users. Juniors are the college students he previously taught as well as the English learners. Elders are high school and undergraduate students, and Experts are professional workers and researchers focused on specialized fields. His website is open to any user at any level for personal use at no cost, and he appreciates your feedback on what you see.

Adams is also seeking help in two areas. First, he hopes to attract active and retired teachers to a) help determine the number of universal constructs in English (his best guess is around 100) and b) undertake the tedious task of validating the use of constructs in all relevant areas. the fields. Second, it seeks out interested institutions or investors to support the work through grants or research support.

Turning to his computer coding site, Adams believes the dropout rate for programming students would drop dramatically if their studies were preceded by preliminary training in effective learning habits. In his own experience, coding education sites did not meet this need. People in the computer world say that it is common practice to tell students to take good notes. However, Adams insists that this is not enough. Coders can use the technology to manage and learn from error messages they encounter.

Adams encourages novice coders to sign up for a free trial and consider a subscription plan. He would also love to hear from coders who have tested what his website has to offer. The other parties he would like to hear are companies that offer coding training. It is in their best interest to reduce their dropout rates, and they will be happy to discuss working together to achieve this.

What Adams calls his “entrepreneurial gene” took him from an underprivileged start to a self-directed career rich in experience and lifelong learning. What lessons can you learn for your own career?

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