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This 12-year-old delivers lectures at Harvard and Yale

Last updated on: April 30, 2012 14:25 IST

This 12-year-old delivers lectures at Harvard and Yale


Lajwanti Dsouza,

Blake Kernen has already co-authored a book with her father and delivers guest lectures at the Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management.

She is just like any other about-to-become teenager in Morristown, New Jersey, United States.

A sixth-grader -- her average day is packed with school, a visit to the chess or tennis club, a few hours in the swimming pool and at community work.

Some part of the day is also spent in writing books, her blog and a few hours are made available for television and newspaper interviews.

Last couple of weeks, she has also had to keep time aside for delivering lectures -- at b-schools or corporate bunches.

One of her last lectures was at the Harvard Business School where she spoke about "free enterprise and the moral case for capitalism." Her next lecture is slated for Yale in the coming week.

Blake Kernen described her Harvard visit: "Going to Harvard was incredible.

The Harvard Business School Chapter of the Adam Smith Society had invited my dad and me to talk about our book. The Harvard students were eager and enthusiastic to talk about capitalism. They inspired me to work even harder at school. They were also incredibly nice."

The book that Blake co-authored with her father (more than a year ago), Joe Kernen, CNBC's Anchor of Squawk Box, is titled Your Teacher Said What!? Trying to Raise a Fifth Grade Capitalist in Obama's America.

"The idea for the book started with conversations my parents and I had. My dad could see that I was only hearing liberal ideals, from movies, news and in my daily routine.

My parents wanted to provide me with a more politically balanced view of America and the world.

While writing the book, my dad and I would talk about a certain subject and he would get my take on it, and then we would go from there."

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Image: Blake Kernen delivering a lecture at a corporate meet


'Education should prepare children for self-responsibility, not dependency'

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According to Blake, the title of the book should have been What My Teacher Didn't Say because that is what the book is really about.

"My father was upset that I wasn't being taught anything about free enterprise and the positive contributions of business and that got me even more interested in the subject, to know more. I wanted to make the point that business and commerce is good for society, and a positive in people's lives, just like peace and love."

It's for these thoughts that Blake's blog is called and the name has a huge meaning for her.

"My dad told me about a recent article he read in the New York Times about business and industry helping to smooth over the longstanding difference between India and Pakistan. That is exactly what is all about."

According to a review of the book available on the internet, the book rightly points out that "instead of developing thinking skills, teachers often provide opinions. Education should prepare children for self-responsibility, not dependency."

The reviewer also added however that "Kernen falls short at times in defending individual rights, having some common Christian-Conservative views, rather than being a full defender of individualism. However, a very useful, often insightful book."

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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'By seeing my father, I understood the importance of working hard'

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Blake has always been in awe of her father who she used to see interviewing leading business people on television.

"That was huge inspiration for me.

As a family we talk a lot about "earned success" and that got me thinking about various issues and forming opinions on them," the sixth-grader said adding "by seeing my father, I understood the importance of working hard to achieve something and the satisfaction and happiness that it brings."

Blake actually made her first TV appearance when she was just a couple of months old.

Her father took her to the CNBC office for Take Your Daughter to Work Day in April 2000.

Since then, she has been on TV numerous times, most recently for the paperback release of her book.

"I truly enjoy doing interviews, but it is very important to be ready and prepared for them," the young one quips.

Image: Blake Kernen with her father
Tags: CNBC

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'I love playing with my three dogs'

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It's obvious that Blake leads a life that is beyond her years.

Does she regret growing up 'too fast'? "I do have to know more about the world than my peers.

Subjects that a lot of kids my age aren't interested in, I have to learn about them.

I am thrust into the adult world more than a lot of kids my age because of interviews and appearances," the 12 year-old admits.

She adds however, that she does manage a lot of leisure time.

"I love playing with my three dogs and my younger brother. I also work at the arboretum in my town where I take care of the animals.

Photography is a passion. I also sing, play the guitar, play tennis, and spend time on my iPad."

Blake's also into music. She went to the School of Rock for several years, that's where she started playing guitar.

"My favourite kind of music is alternative rock and pop. I love watching American Idol," she said allaying any fears on whether she was missing out on the simple joys of life.

She also told that she would like to do an MBA but that is only "when I grow up."

As for now she is happy being an 'almost' normal and about-to-become  teenager.

Image: Blake with one of her dogs
Tags: Blake , MBA

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