Once in a while, people in education roll their eyes at the word “entrepreneurialism”, seeing it as a word that symbolizes greed, self interest and capitalistic exploitation. I’m a little embarrassed to say, I have felt a little like that on occasion as well. It’s misguided thinking. Initiative and entrepreneurialism are a cornerstone of more than simply our economy, They are key components of who we are as a species. I think that we need to clarify the definition of entrepreneur first. It is linked to the business world and is defined as “a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture.” In many respects those people who assume risk are the people who move our society forward, whether in business or society. Risk taking, calculated, intelligent risk taking, moves us forward. Don’t we want that in our students?
The business community is looking for self-directed people who can find creative solutions to tough, challenging problems. Is that simply in business or more universal than that? Is our society not looking for that same skill set in it’s political leaders, in it’s social activists and its scientists? I believe it is. Leaders in all walks of life need to be risk-takers, entrepreneurs who take calculated risk for the betterment of their personal well being, society or an institution. As my mother used to say, you’ll never take that first step if you are afraid to fall.
Initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit are not difficult to promote in classrooms, simply by encouraging students to think and by looking at failure as a take off spot for learning, children can see risk as being worthwhile. If students are not afraid to fail, if they see failure as a learning opportunity, they are more likely to continue to risk failure. If however, failure is seen as an abyss which students are afraid to tumble down, they will not risk the chance to fail. If students sit in straight rows and are fed prepackaged learning, where is the chance for them to think creatively and risk failure. We foster a climate of safety of thought, but not one of innovation, not one of adaptability, not one of initiative. So, teachers, when you are looking at your lessons, try to identify areas where students can take a risk and not feel deflated for failing. Promote failure as an opportunity to learn.
Take a look at the video link below. Hopefully you see the point.
Keep on Learning,