Entrepreneurship in Action
Entrepreneurship in Action

The primary goal of any education system should be to prepare young people for a successful life. Young people should be aware of the great opportunities that exist, including how to start their own businesses, how to come up with new ideas and how to make a positive contribution to the community of which they are part. Such options require skills such as creative problem solving, accepting that errors are part of the growth process, leadership skills, financial literacy, self-guided learning, global interaction, risk-taking, resilience, grit, teamwork skills and adaptability in an ever-changing environment.

The skills mentioned in the above paragraph are the cornerstones of entrepreneurial education. This education requires students to be able to identify, as well as solve any challenges and opportunities that arise along the way. In order to create a successful human in the future, we must start with entrepreneurship as early as possible. Currently, we are still teaching in a way where all subjects are taught without a focus on interdisciplinarity or only to a very small degree. I hope this will change. Schools support standard solutions but think how happy our students would be if we could let them work towards their dreams and the wonderful ideas they already have. As a teacher, I often talk to students who have creative ideas, but they cannot focus on them or develop them at school. At school, they have to memorise material and complete tests on which their own, reflective responses often mean nothing. This particularly applies to students attending the academic studies where students are not allowed to participate in the Young Entrepreneurship programme. This popular initiative was created in 1997 for middle and high school students in Norway.

However, there is hope. Although the traditional education system focuses heavily on what can be measured or put into frames, it is still possible to spend time on projects that can help students develop the skills needed in entrepreneurships. Every school year, I spend four weeks on a project that requires students to develop business ideas and present the whole process to other students. They would definitely prefer to focus on this project for a longer period of time, but the most important thing is that they get to know how to go from an idea to a business, how to make a business plan and how to present themselves in front of the Shark Tank panel. Another way of introducing entrepreneurship into schools is through the implementation of Genius Hour projects, as previously mentioned in Chapter 1. For such projects, students themselves choose to work on entrepreneurship or any other topic they feel passionate about. Today’s students will solve tomorrow’s problems, and that is why we, as educators, need to do everything we can to help them succeed. Our students are the ones who have to solve the world’s greatest problems of tomorrow and can help the world be a better place in the future.

Entrepreneurship begins with a dream and ends with a product or service that fills a niche. By teaching our students to think as entrepreneurs, we can change their mindset. We can promote a focus on learning from mistakes and challenges—an important focus that schools should aim to address more effectively. How can teachers show students that it is okay to fail because only those who fail can achieve success? Another benefit of implementing entrepreneurship is the ownership it gives to students. It is our students who own ideas and products at the end of the learning process. Moreover, entrepreneurship is also good for the labour market and the economy in general. We know that those who are self-employed can be a powerful tool for creating jobs and providing a strengthened economy.

Entrepreneurship can also be a great platform or a starting point for building partnerships between schools and communities. Mobility, weekly visits and job shadowing for high school students is a fruitful way to learn about companies’ wants and needs and may also contribute to the process of building sustainable and innovative societies.

It is also worth mentioning that entrepreneurship and design thinking, which is a process and a mindset for creative and complex problem solving, go hand in hand.  We need to show our students, i.e. future entrepreneurs, that they need to put themselves into the shoes of their customers in order to understand their needs, generate ideas to solve them and select the most effective solutions. Through design thinking, students can take ownership of their learning and are better able to see the relevance of educational content. Design thinking emphasises the importance of authentic and complex problems, making learning more authentic and practical. When students see a clear connection between what they learn in the classroom and their own lives, they are inspired to learn. Today’s labour market is changing rapidly. We no longer know what we are preparing students for, but we know that design thinking is a human-centred approach and a process that can be used in any profession.

We often say that children are our future. Therefore, we should think carefully about how teachers can help them become successful entrepreneurs, good leaders and innovative job creators.  Schools need to support a creative mindset from primary school to high school and beyond. The next time you plan your classes, think about how to integrate entrepreneurship within your educational programmes. If you have never created any lessons on entrepreneurship, you first step should involve using this website: https://www.teachingentrepreneurship.org/. Doan Winkel, an educator and entrepreneur, Justin Wilcox, a successful founder and an entrepreneurship teacher, and Frederico Manmano, an entrepreneur, created the site, which has been of great help in the beginning of my entrepreneurship journey in the classroom.

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