Andrew Jenks: Schools need entrepreneurial ideas

andrew jenks

Andrew Jenks speaking at Student Voice Live! in New York City in April. Credit: Dell

Andrew Jenks, star of the documentary series “World of Jenks” on MTV, will tell educators today how they can prompt change in their schools and communities by thinking more like entrepreneurs and supporting the ones around them.Jenks is scheduled to speak at the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education, where he will discuss supporting young filmmakers through his All American High School Film Festival, which kicks off in New York City in October.

Tech Page One caught up with Jenks on Monday to ask about the festival, his thoughts on entrepreneurialism in education and how he was supported as a young artist.

Part of the seminar will delve into how students and teachers are implementing entrepreneurial ideas into their schools. Can you explain what entrepreneurism looks like in an educational setting?

One thing that I’ve been very grateful for is not just being able to do the MTV show, but being able to move into young subcultures all over the country. I started to realize that education was a problem and had serious malfunctions and issues that needed to be addressed — not to sound too earnest. And I took the world that I know and working in, which is film and TV, and thought, “How I can do something that will help educate kids in the world of art, but do it in a way that’s hands on so they are able to experience it and really learn from it?” That’s what I’m doing with the All American High School Film Festival, which is a national film festival, the biggest in the country. It’s a way for filmmaker-entrepreneurs, if you will, to showcase their films, network and communicate. It’s a chance for students to really have a lot of fun, but also get an education while it’s happening.

Do you think there is more of a need for these kinds of festivals considering the difficulties some schools are having incorporating arts into the school day?

Yeah. I also think it’s important that schools are able to give money and provide the resources. It’s also incumbent on teachers and students to get creative as to how they can, under a limited or no budget, pursue their own ventures, especially since we’re talking a lot about education in the sense of learning by experiencing. A film festival at a local high school didn’t really cost us any money. We had to get the auditorium for the evening and that was about it. We had volunteers. We had my friend running the projector.

Was that something you did as a high school student, you started a film festival?

When I was 16, I just had nowhere to show my short film — my little video that was three-minutes long. I had nowhere to really show it other than my friends’ or our parents’ basements. So we thought, “Why not try and get the festival going?” Because that way I know a bunch of my buddies who make short films or do something creative in the arts can actually show their work and be encouraged by it. Yeah, you make your short film, you might put it up on YouTube, but it’s pretty cool when you’re able to get everyone in the same auditorium or in same room, because there’s a lot to be said for face-to-face interaction and just encouraging each other. These aren’t athletes who have healthy egos. These are a lot young people who have quite the opposite.

And I guess the administration needed to be open to the idea of you doing a film festival?

I think an administration really provides the cultural foundation. If they are able to be open to innovative ideas, then I think they’ll be that much better for it. They may fail along the way, but then you can just try something else. It doesn’t have to be a matter of money. Just as so long the schools see a way to get creative and not think that they need to stay true to the traditional methods of teaching, then everyone will be equally better off.

Nick Clunn is an award-winning journalist who has worked for several websites and daily newspapers, including The Record in New Jersey. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University. Follow him @NickClunn.

Nick Clunn
Nick Clunn is a journalist covering the tech beat and an adjunct professor at Montclair State University. He lives in New Jersey, where he had worked as a staff writer for several leading daily newspapers and websites.
Nick Clunn
Nick Clunn
Tags: Business,Education