Fostering Entrepreneurship in Schools

World of Work June 30, 2015

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made? is a question prominently placed on the website of my bank. Whenever I need to make any online payments, my head is literally forced to scroll over it.  

By asking this question my bank follows suit in mythicizing the entrepreneur. I assume it wants to come across as an instance that supports people who want to start up their own business. 

Entrepreneurial characteristics are celebrated everywhere and after celebration follows replication. We like entrepreneurs and try to grow more of them. 

Schools and universities teach you entrepreneurship; start a search for ‘entrepreneurship courses’ and you will get roughly 50 million answers. 

Teaching others how to start a business is a trend.

Entrepreneurial education comes in many sorts and sizes:  whether these are courses at the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School or vocational carpentry skills taught to Malawi high school students by the organization Aflatoun – everyone likes to teach entrepreneurship in some shape or form. 

I think it is great that such courses are provided and assume that the purpose of facilitating them is to convey the traits rather than the craft. You do not have to start your own business to be an entrepreneurial thinker. Taking bold decisions and seeing them through with resilience can also be done within existing organizational structures. 

It goes without saying that I am particularly inspired by schools who offer their teachers the opportunity to grow as entrepreneurs. 

I feel there should be 4 basic conditions present in schools to make entrepreneurial teacher spirits thrive:  

1. Provide a platform for exchange.

In April of this year I had the honour of visiting the t-MBA conference, an annual conference organised by Doga Koleji. the biggest school chain in Turkey. Even though this international conference is mainly targeted at senior high school students to get a taste of what a career in business could be like, it offers lots of training, collaboration and exchange for teachers from a great variety of countries. It was really inspiring to hear teachers from Moscow speak to teachers from Beirut how they use technology in the classroom to achieve better learning outcomes for their students. 

2. Give feedback.

In my office in London I am sat across from Siobhan Horisk, Headteacher of the Hackney New Primary School who has used a Japanese method in her school called Lesson Study.

Lesson Study is a teacher’s gathering whereby – through a systematic feedback loop – teachers help each other by offering new insights and ideas on how to become an even better educator in a non-intrusive manner. 

 “Lesson Study has a much stronger impact on the quality of teaching and learning than the traditional lesson observation and grading format. Teachers feel valued rather than judged, and this gives us a much stronger foundation from which to build.” testifies Horisk. 

3. Foster creativity. 

The Imagination Foundation in California combines creativity and entrepreneurship from teacher to student through the medium of play. 

“As teachers focus on the creativity of the children they become more entrepreneurial and creative themselves.” explains the organisation’s founder Mike  McGalliard. 

The foundation, primarily focused on students in their early childhood development, is getting more organisations to adopt their approach through their novel chapter set-up that allows schools such as the Schaefer Elementary School to adopt Imagination’s approach at their own pace. 

4. Facilitate time. 

Genius Hour allows a student’s passion to come to life. 

The idea of this specific hour is for students to follow their (learning) passion in whatever they want.  The concept is based on a Google business practice in which 20% of employees’ time could be spent on thinking of out-of-the-box ideas, provided it eventually benefits the company. Like the program of the Imagination Foundation, Genius Hour is originally meant to increase the intrinsic motivation of students but has shown to have positive effects on teacher’s thinking as well. 

These are only a few examples and ideas on how entrepreneurial thinking among teachers in schools can be improved. I am happy to see that there are many growing new ideas from all over the world that allow teachers to become more independent in their undertaking. I have the privilege of reading about many of them on TeachPitch through the hundreds of teacher profiles that we receive every day. 

Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?

Provided schools facilitate sufficient platform, feedback, room for creativity and time, I would definitely go with Made

Read Aldo de Pape’s article: What Effective Teachers and Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common