School-Based Enterprise

Productive Learning in American High Schools

David Stern, James Stone III, Charles Hopkins, Martin McMillion, Robert Crain

"From Bill Clinton to local educators, many are singing the virtues of school-linked apprenticeship. Finally, we have a hard-headed guide to what works and why."
--Bruce Fuller, associate professor, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

Every year, tens of thousands of high school students across the country participate in school-based enterprises (SBEs). They build houses, publish books, run restaurants, produce original scientific research, staff child-care centers, and provide other goods and services under school auspices.

Like teaching hospitals attached to medical schools or law review journals produced by law students, many high school SBEs have been part of vocational programs. However, productive activities can also help students learn academic subjects and develop general intellectual abilities. This book describes the potential use of school-based enterprise across the high school curriculum.

Drawing on observations and interviews with student and faculty at sixteen sites--urban, suburban, and rural, rich and poor, with college-bound and low-achieving students--the authors illustrate how SBEs work and describe the range of benefits they offer. Educational benefits include applying and extending knowledge acquired in the classroom, solving problems in the context of real social transactions, and working in teams. SBEs also produce tangible economic rewards and positive social outcomes. Despite these advantages, SBEs currently involve only a small percentage of high school students, and these only for a small part of their time. The authors explain the difficulties and dilemmas encountered by these projects, and they envision an expanded role for SBEs in helping to create a new relationship between education and work.


Part One: School-Based Enterprise and American High Schools
  1. The Idea of Learning by Producing
  2. Enterprise in Action: Examples from Sixteen Schools
Part Two: The Benefits of School-Based Enterprise
  1. Teaching and Learning in a Practical Context
  2. Economic Contributions
  3. Social Benefits
Part Three: Creating a School-Based Enterprise
  1. Getting Started
  2. Running an Enterprise for Learning
Part Four: The Future of School-Based Enterprise
  1. A Tale of Two Schools
  2. A Strategy for Expansion

January 1994
ISBN 1-55542-597-6
LC 93-29489
246 pages

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