17 Aug

7 Reasons to develop entrepreneurship in schools

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When we look at blogs on education, we detect a strong will to change things. Current topics such as the School-Lab, Rethinking the school and the Digital Action Plan are good examples of this concern. All are seeking to make our schools better so that they meet the demands of the next century. It appears that what we want should not be analyzed only in terms of curriculum, facilities or structures, but we should rather imagine a school oriented toward the full development of all individuals who attend it: young people, teachers, principals, professionals and support staff. A school open to its community and belonging to its community.

Digital integration, literacy, numeracy, citizenship, neurosciences, the efficient school and the coding, to name a few, are themes travelling happily on the Web. However, behind these educational approaches, there is a young person in search of meaning who observes the changes we are trying to implement around him to increase his motivation to succeed.

My experience as a teacher and as a school principal has given me a better understanding of who is the key player in the success of a young person: the young person himself.

The young person should feel the influence of a team who will guide and orient his choices, but he needs to learn how to make choices. Discovering the educational entrepreneurial approach in my career has definitely oriented my practice. I have started noticing small miracles, I have seen parents get involved with the school for their child and partners proposing help so that collectively, we put everything in place so that young people have the chance to make more informed and engaged choices.

My experience as a coach in the field of Entrepreneurial Education has also allowed me to see certain teachers jumping in with both feet while others were in doubt or did not know if it was worth it (if the game was worth the candle). Therefore, I would like to present a series of arguments to demonstrate the value of Entrepreneurial Education in the school.

1.   Believing that we can be an agent for change

What if the capacity to imagine solutions and create change came from education?

 Each year, consultants in management or in Human Ressources Management publish hundreds of papers on change management. We can say that it is a lucrative market for these authors, but if there are so many, it must be because there is a real need!

In our school career, we have never or rarely had the opportunity to take risks or try experiences containing authentic issues. We have always been closely supervised in order not to break the mold.  

Today, I believe that school stakeholders must understand that we are not here to reproduce the mold but to contribute to the full development of individuals with unique characteristics and potential.

The more young people learn to measure risk, to live in a state of imbalance and to see that they learn best in these situations, the more competent they will become in appreciating the changes they will face.

2.   Believing that we can influence the path and DESTINATION of young people who PASS through our CLASSES

We all remember a teacher who inspired us. For many of us, these teachers have influenced our choice of career or have led us to make wiser choices in our life (friends, consumption, etc.). Since the beginning of time, some teachers have played the role of mentor, of coach for young people in their classes, but I have the feeling that it was the minority who did that.

I believe that we could imagine that a bigger majority of teachers consciously influence young people’s path by guiding them and establishing a partnership rapport. Collectively, we could enrich the choices and experiences that young people will live in our schools.

Let’s make young people’s hearts beat in unison in our classes through our passions and theirs. Our fields of interest are fantastic vehicles for youth to develop and showcase themselves.

3.   Believing that together we can change the world

« Why should I do this since nobody will hear about it! » One interest thing about Educational Entrepreneurship in a digital world is to find a solution to an authentic problem for an actual target audience. We are not doing things for the sake of doing things. We collectively hope to change things in a class or in a school. Often, with the interconnectivity we now have with social networks, our good ideas travel for thousands of kilometers. The flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause unexpected tidal waves. Our projects can change the world and the ability to do so belongs to the young people in our classes. So we have the opportunity and the responsibility to make sure that young people realize that they can make a difference, that they can influence their future and that the world is waiting for their ideas. Let’s all be actors of change.

Let’s change the world through children!

4.   Believing that we can teach more authentically

« What good will it do me to learn this ? » As a teacher, I was often asked that question. A bit of a silly answer I have used before (which I regret today) is « you will figure it out when you are older ».

In hindsight, this is not the kind of response that motivates young people or empowers them in their learning. Of course, some of the more abstract concepts may need to be learned in a systematic way, but if we use our pedagogical and didactic content more in authentic contexts such as entrepreneurial projects, I can assure you that this question will no longer arise. Youth will apply the concepts learned in situations that are meaningful to them and that allow them to understand their usefulness.

5.   Believing that youth can be engaged in school… at any age

The authenticity of entrepreneurial projects can activate young people’s commitment to their school life, but there are still prerequisites or complementary conditions to keep in mind. As soon as possible, the youth must take ownership of the project so that it becomes THEIR project. Since the teacher is often behind the idea or the coordination of the project, especially among little ones, it can be helpful to use pedagogical trickery to question and guide young people toward better choices. The recipies of the project (clients, target audience, needy persons) must also be well known to the youth and some form of relationship must be established. This way, young people will be motivated by the desire to help someone they feel they know. The teacher also needs to be transparent and trust the youth « for real ». Never underestimate the potential of children.

6.   Believing that parents and the community  can be real partners  

Unfortunately, we read articles about parent kings coming to our schools. Adults who feel they know everything about the teacher’s job because they spent 16-17 years on school benches. Education is a science that has evolved enormously in recent years; the work of teachers is no longer the same as it was. It has not only changed due to advances in science, it has also been transformed by the new and ever-increasing demands on school and management. We can no longer work in isolation; it takes a whole village to educate children1].The problem is that neither the parents, nor the school have established the rules of the game. A better dialogue between the school and the community will permit to establish mutual expectations, but it would be tragic if the school did not take advantage of the sum of talents, resources and opportunities offered by its community of parents, and also its partners. Let’s open the door to this immense potential for collaboration. The entrepreneurial project is a fantastic way to engage partners. It may be the first door to open to difficult parents. And you will see that when they witness their child’s motivation and ability to successfully complete a task that is not solely academic, they will say « I did not think my son/daughter was able to do that! ». From that point on, you can build a relationship that sometimes leads to collaboration to make a youth’s case plan.

7.   Believing in the power of youth!

The entrepreneurial project solicits three roles in our classrooms: initiator, director and manager of their project or projects in which they are involved. These three roles interchange throughout the process and each person is as comfortable with one as the other. It is therefore up to the teachers to see that the strengths they wish to draw out are emphasized and that the roles in which young people seem to be more effaced are developed. .

Although it can be intimidating to talk to adults they don’t know, young people are often more successful in negotiations than the teachers themselves. They have the candor and vivacity that ignites the heart of the partners. They don’t put all the brakes on themselves that we, adults, impose on ourselves. Let’s be lamplighters, let’s allow young people to express their passions and pass them on to those around them and to their partners.

They did not know it was impossible, so they did it» – Mark Twain.

Entrepreneurial Education enables young people to take control of their power to act. That way, they will develop self confidence, their resourcefulness, their creativity and other skills. We have a golden opportunity to help young people develop the best resume possible so that they can succeed and thrive in their lives.

by Jean-Sébastien Reid
Deputy executive director

Idée éducation entrepreneuriale

[1] Sagesse africaine

[2] Le Petit prince, François de St-Exupéry, 1943

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