• Ethan Barnes


Flip phones, chunky computers, Sony Walkmans. Our youth was dominated by the emergence of technology as the Third Industrial Revolution swept the globe. New ideas ebbing and flowing with the times. It was our time to grow, our time to create, our time to amaze the world with our innovation and zeal for life. Do you remember that feeling that nothing could stop you? Do you remember when there wasn’t a fear of failure?

We at Ascend Now aim to bring that verve back. We want to help our students, our partners in academic crime, to develop a relationship with learning that goes beyond rote learning, a relationship that goes beyond a textbook, a relationship that interweaves every strand of their lives.

The concept of holistic learning is not new. However, we at Ascend Now strongly believe that learning cannot be effective unless we can help students to integrate their academic and social worlds to become one. For this reason, we strive to imbue our students with a sense of autonomy. The aim is to give them control of what, how and why they are learning, empowering them with the tools necessary to become a successful adult in the 21st century.

One of our most effective tools is a mini “Shark Tank” in which our students pitch a business idea to several leading businessmen from around the world. Our students thrived with the extended autonomy presented to them for this project. Our students are extremely diverse individuals with their own specific goals and backgrounds, from athletes to artists to engineers. But our cornerstone is the Shark Tank. In promoting an entrepreneurial spirit, we want to see our students take their unique abilities and thrive. In the space of a couple of hours we see a range of ideas pitched. All of them are unique. All of them address a huge potential market. All of them are eco-friendly.

The murmurs from the judges are indicative of the effort that the students have put in. “Fantastic.” “Where [do] we invest?” I find myself smiling along with these young entrepreneurs as they receive feedback and answer questions from the panel - their positivity is infectious. They aren’t cowed by the judges, they aren’t shy to explain their ideas, and they aren’t hesitant to ask the judges questions. They are bold. They are themselves.

They aren’t afraid.

It’s time. It’s time to create world leaders, creative thinkers, go-getters. It’s time for the visionaries to take center stage. It’s time for our children to shine. They aren’t the future anymore. They are the present. And it’s their time now.

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