NO TEXTBOOKS, NO LECTURES, NO THEORIES
On a rainy Thursday morning, all was warm and cozy in Olin 102. A trumpet player serenaded arriving students while a video of a burning yule log played on the screen behind him. Cups of hot tea waited to be sipped.
Len Green, adjunct lecturer of entrepreneurship, took in the scene. “I have no idea what this is about,” he admitted, but he wasn’t concerned. It was just another typically untypical day in his class, “The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge.”
Loosely modeled on The Apprentice, the Donald Trump TV show, Green’s course aims to test students with realistic business challenges. The class, which usually garners a long waiting list, has no textbook, no set schedule, and no lectures. The syllabus encourages students to break their pens so they don’t take too many notes. “There is no theory in my class,” says Green, who, while developing the course, thought back to the many boring lessons he sat through when in school. He wanted to create the opposite of that, a practical classroom environment that keeps students on their toes. “I’m doing what is done in the real world,” he says.
A consultant and investor from Holmdel, N.J., Green commutes nine hours round-trip every week to teach the class. That’s obviously a big commitment, especially considering he works some 80 hours a week. But Green keeps in mind an important lesson from his teenage years. Someone he admired told him: To be successful, be prepared, work hard, enjoy what you do, and strive to be the best you can. “I have never forgotten that mission,” Green says. “I apply it to my business endeavors and to teaching, both of which I have a passion for.”
The first order of business in Green’s class is the dividing of students into teams, a process he tries to keep as true to life as possible. When student CEOs begin drafting team members, for instance, a chosen student can refuse to join, just as a job candidate can turn down an offer in real life. On the other hand, if teams are uncooperative, CEOs can fire members or resign and join another group.