18 Jun Can teachers really deliver enterprise education?
With the increasing emphasis on enterprise education, particularly at a primary level, some teachers’ ability to deliver this content might be called into question. Some argue that entrepreneurship cannot be taught by someone who has no experience of running a business, but is that unfair?
Some teachers have never left the education system. The route through school, university, and teacher training is familiar, with many teachers embarking on their careers in their early 20s. Furthermore, kids in mainstream education grow up around teachers and understand the role of a teacher perhaps better than any other profession.
It is no wonder, therefore, that becoming a teacher represents an appealing option for many university leavers and it is a testament to the generations of teachers who have inspired their pupils to pursue that very career. This is something we should be incredibly proud of, that the teaching profession attracts some of the most talented and skilled members of our workforce.
But here’s the important question:
Can teachers teach enterprise to kids?
Having said all of the above, how effectively can teachers teach enterprise education? To suggest that teachers are less equipped to inspire enterprising behaviour because they haven’t ever run their own business would question how a teacher can prepare us for any career outside of the classroom. Many an English literature teacher can only dream of being a published novelist and a PE teacher a professional sportsperson. This is why this line of argument is flawed.
But this is the thing:
A lot of people do question teachers’ ability to teach enterprise.
I think people are missing two key points:
Firstly, enterprise is inherently difficult to ‘teach’. For anyone, not just teachers! There’s no formula or blueprint to business; no right and wrongs – this is exactly why enterprise should be not a statutory element of the curriculum.
The second is that teachers have not been fully equipped to teach enterprise. Entrepreneurship has so long been labelled the ‘you’re born with it’ subject that we’ve neglected it. And because we don’t help to nurture it in schools, it’s the children who drop out of school, who don’t fit our description of ‘academic’ who go on to start a business.
The business community has a role to play in empowering teachers to be able to deliver enterprise education in the classroom.
How do we teach entrepreneurship?
Firstly, being entrepreneurial is a blend of nature and nurture, but it’s clear that we can instil an entrepreneurial mindset and skills in people. Secondly, we must remember that teaching and learning are not always in sync with each other. In a basic sense, you can ‘teach’ anyone anything. Whether they ‘learn’ what you’re teaching them is another matter. We don’t think about teaching qualities such as creativity, positivity or resilience; it’s more about cultivating or nurturing them.
In helping children learn the traits of entrepreneurship, the focus must be on developing the right attitudes and characteristics. This is why I am passionate that we instil these attitudes as early as possible because they are more readily adopted in our formative years. We stand a greater chance of nurturing these characteristics through primary enterprise, in particular.
This was one of the driving factors behind developing storybooks rather than a prescriptive course of teaching and learning. Children don’t need to be taught the mechanics of running a business; all of this can be learned at college or in higher education. They need the right mindset and an understanding of how the world works and a belief that they can go out there and change it. This is why teachers should be able to deliver enterprise if they are given the right tools.
As enterprise educators, Clever Tykes realised we had to create an extensive and comprehensive teachers guide to explain some of the key points of the stories and suggest effective ways of developing the right skills. The guide also provides ways of integrating enterprise education into a primary curriculum which so desperately needs an element of enterprise education and other life skills.
Starting young with enterprise education
As Sir Ken Robinson puts it; children are ‘taught out of creativity’. This creativity is exactly what we need; not just in entrepreneurs, but in everyone who grows up and seeks a fulfilling career – there are benefits of being enterprising in all walks of life. So why are we waiting until kids are out of college or university to try and ‘reteach’ it to them? If we’ve realised there aren’t enough businesses to employ everyone and we need to increase economic growth, we’re starting far too late. Kids who have chosen to study law, accounting, or engineering aren’t likely to completely pivot their career plans.
If we’re really going to change the attitudes and skills of a generation, we need to start young and we need to find a way of making learning effective. Kids who grow up with a business person parent are far more likely to start a business themselves because of the dramatically different experiences they have growing up compared with their peers. Teachers and the education system have a role to play in giving some of these skills to kids who don’t have this kind of family influence.
Teachers are enterprising in their work. Management and communication skills are paramount to their success and many of the teachers I have met have been incredibly creative and innovative in the way they deliver material and get the best out of their students. Remember that much of entrepreneurship is about problem-solving and finding a way of doing something effectively. This is something teachers do on a daily basis. Underestimate them at your peril.
Arm a teacher with the right resources and they will deliver.
Find out more about Clever Tykes’ teaching resources.