As steadfast champions of public education, The Learning Partnership has furthered many causes that have benefitted thousands of students and educators. In particular, I commend them for the focus they have had on entrepreneurship. As educators, we must ensure that students develop an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. Not only is this mindset already a significant source of job creation, it will grow exponentially as our world increasingly relies on ingenuity and lifelong learning, fueled by collaboration.
With youth unemployment a major concern today, there is a need to position entrepreneurship not just as a business skill but as a life skill as we prepare students to find innovative solutions to the problems that they will inevitably confront. This combination of skills allows for an individual to turn ideas into action. It enables innovative improvements, solves complex problems, creates social value and builds prosperity.
Zhao (2012), addresses these issues. He mentions three types of entrepreneurs with the caveat that entrepreneurs are not simply those who start a business in order to maximize profits. There are social entrepreneurs who apply entrepreneurial principles to achieve social change; there are intrapreneurs who make significant innovations within the organizations in which they work, and there are also policy entrepreneurs who make noteworthy policy improvements within public and government institutions.
Many agree that human beings are born with the desire and potential to create and innovate, to dream and imagine and to challenge and improve the status quo. But this potential, according to Zhao, can be suppressed or amplified, based on experiences.
All students, regardless of their career orientation or the career clusters that they choose to pursue, have the potential to be entrepreneurial. It is clear that we need to do more to foster the entrepreneurial mindset in all our schools. This should not be left to chance. We do know that parents and the community have a role to play. Schools cannot do this alone. But ours is an opportunity not to be missed.
Educators today have a holistic approach to teaching and learning. They educate hearts as well as minds. They teach students to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and solution finders. They develop global perspectives, good character and strong intra- and interpersonal competencies. The focus remains on academic achievement and wellbeing, preparing students for post-secondary education, work and to become responsible and engaged citizens.
Qualities such as creativity, curiosity, imagination, initiative, intelligent risk taking, collaboration, opportunity recognition, self-confidence and strong people skills must be developed. It is true that a well-prepared citizen of the future has to be creative, entrepreneurial and globally competent. Some governments have already instituted entrepreneurial studies as an important part of the curriculum. Many teachers have been working hard to implement programs that contribute to these goals. Let’s continue to support our schools in their efforts to work with business, labour and industry to further embed the qualities necessary for entrepreneurship to thrive.
Yong Zhao (2012) World Class Learners, Thousand Oaks, California
Glaze, Avis; Mattingley, Ruth, and Andrews, Rob (2013). High School Graduation: K-12 Strategies that Work, Corwin, Thousand Oaks, California
Dr. Avis Glaze is an international leader in education who has served as Advisor to the Minister of Education in New Zealand. She was presented with the Robert Owen Award, the first of its kind presented in Scotland, for her contribution to international education. Recently, she was one of two international speakers invited to address the “Schools Build Better Societies” conference supported by the Queen of Norway. Avis spent most of her career in a variety of roles in Ontario, having served as Ontario Education Commissioner and Founding CEO of The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. Dr. Avis Glaze co-authored two books with colleagues: Breaking Barriers: Excellence and Equity for All and High School Graduation: k-12 Strategies that Work. She continues to work with educators across the globe.