According to a recent Gallup poll in the U.S., a full 43% of students want to become entrepreneurs. Wow. That is quite the big number and it seems to be growing amidst economic woes and soaring youth unemployment. Indeed, from many angles, being an entrepreneur, or at the very least, entrepreneuring, is much safer than having one job in such tough market conditions.
This trend is not going to stop any time soon. What does this mean for school? Well, we know for a fact that the model of education we are currently using was designed for a job, mostly in a factory, with a boss who told you what to do. I think we can all agree we have evolved from that. The kids sure know it. At least they sure feel it. Many of them honestly just want to get some experience, get their hands dirty and learn things that the classroom cannot teach. But when youth unemployment is sky high (60% in Spain!), what are the youth to do?
They have to take matters into their own hands.
They have no choice really. School remains ossified. Many times, school is actually preventing the entrepreneurial spirit. Punishing failure with poor grades is a quick way to knock the wind out of anyone – yet how many times did Edison fail before he invented the light bulb? Lots. Like over 10,000 tries lots. Many times, kids have to learn the skills they need in spite of school. It sounds crazy, but I have seen it with my own eyes.
I believe it needs to change. I think the mindset of teachers is as good as place as any to begin. With all the powerful, free tools out there to produce amazing learning, we still give multiple choice tests because…? And punish kids for not recalling facts because…? Teachers need to move more into a maker-model where students are assessed by what they have made – or attempted to make.
Let it begin with the teachers. Think to your best moments in education. I am pretty sure it was not in taking (or giving) a test. More likely, it was some super cool project that you did in art class and your mom still has it hanging on a wall. Now, think about what the kids can do in the digital age. It really is limitless. Why do we hold them back with curriculum chock a block full of ridiculous outcomes? That is by far the best way to break creativity and entrepreneurialsim.
I believe that Larry Rosenstock, principal of High Tech High, nails it right on for what teachers need to be today. Check it out:
I think Larry is correct in that we know you are a good teacher by the level of sophistication of the work students produce. That raises the bar for what being a great teacher means. It means that you cannot just throw down some multiple choice test. It means that the teacher must already be highly engaged in something that they are experts in, or on their way to becoming and mentoring the kids. Like entrepreneurship.
In BC, where I work, there is a curriculum for entrepreneurship. The flaw is that education assumes that if we give a teacher the curriculum, they will be able to deliver it. But the bar for greatness has been raised. What are you going to do when nearly half the kids sitting in class want to become entrepreneurs as is and are already working to develop those skills – from shooting movies to designing animation to building houses? What is a teacher to do? Again, I believe Larry is correct that now that teacher must already be working on something outside of the school that is already exceptional – like building a business. Then, the teacher can discover the curriculum with students rather than deliver it.
For all of the teachers out there struggling to find a full time gig, judging by the trend, and as crazy as it sounds, you may want to start your own business in order to get a job in the classroom. Those skills will be in demand. Become a teacher/entrepreneur, er wait a sec, is it the other way around – an entrepreneur/teacher?