Thursday, January 13, 2011

Interview with Lane Sutton

Here is my interview with 14 year-old entrepreneur (yes, you read that right) Lane Sutton. Lane is an extraordinary young man who is highly motivated to reach his goals. He spoke at Jeff Pulver's #140conf in 2010, at age 13, and runs his own website. I think that young people like Lane need to be involved in the discussion about reforming education to meet the needs of 21st century learners so please comment, question, debate in the comment section below whether or not you are an educator.

1. How old are you and where are you from?

I am 14 years old and from Framingham, Massachusetts (metrowest of Boston)

2. How would you describe your social media use on a normal day?

Typically, in the morning I check all of my updates, do some tweets and then head off to school. A bad habit of mine, but I check my phone right when I get out of school for voicemail, e-mails, tweets. I will usually spend probably an hour in total using Twitter in any given day.

3. Can you tell us about your experience speaking at the 140 Character Conference?

I had heard about the conference online, and saw that it was coming to Boston, I applied to be a speaker and waited to hear back if I was accepted or not. I was accepted! My topic was about my entire entrepreneur story, how I got started, and how far I have come now. I was very honored to be speaking in such a huge auditorium with over a few hundred people in front of me listening, plus a ton watching livestream. This was also one of my first speeches.

4. Do you think school, as an institution, is valuable? Why?

In some cases, I do think school is important to learn especially things that we can use in life.

5. What aren't you being taught in school that you feel should be taught?

Using Technology Safely – I feel that many of the students in our school don’t use it the right way, and can really learn from it like finding helpful resources online and not sharing too much with social media or the internet.

6. What do you do in school that you feel is a waste of your time?

Sometimes, Science class and Social Studies, I think we learn some things that may not be things we need to know, or can apply to our lives. I am not planning on becoming a geographer, archaeologist, chemist, or a scientist.

7. What is the most valuable academic subject for students entering the
second decade of the 21st century?

I still think Math or Algebra classes are really essential to learn since we use it everyday.

8. If you could design a lesson for next year's class, how would you
structure it?

Tough question! I would probably create a lesson about business and teaching the class about getting a job, how to market themselves, differentiate themselves in a competitive market which are all skills that we will need as the 8th graders move into high school and look for jobs.

9. What are your thoughts on standardized tests?

I think that it isn't necessarily right to do since some students are at different levels of reading, and how fast they can learn, what they can remember, etc., I think that teachers should customize their tests for classes, or maybe even have multiple versions of tests to also prevent cheating.

10. What makes a good teacher good?

A teacher who makes learning fun and interesting, not boring, by bringing the subject to life.

11. Do you feel that Googling facts is a suitable replacement for knowing

Yes and no. Sometimes I might have to Google search for facts since I just may not know them. But, of course if it was taught in class, it would be my responsibility to know them by memory.

12. What projects are you working on outside of school?

I run Kid Critic ( where I write reviews on movies, books, activities, restaurants, products and more from a kid-friendly point of view. I also work as a Social Media Strategist for small businesses helping to create their online web presence and build the brand using social platforms. I also do a lot of public speaking to organizations, at events, and conferences.

My twitter handle is @KidCriticUSA.

Check out the previous interviews in the series:

Pearce Delphin (Part One)

Pearce Delphin (Part Two)

Todd Oh

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