Gene Coulson

It is to the benefit of every student and every community to establish an entrepreneurial culture in every school. Here are four reasons why we should begin now:

1. Entrepreneurship Education benefits every student by giving them an alternate career path at any time in their lives.  In every graduating class, there are students who want to go into business right away. There are some who will consider it after college or several years of employment. Some graduates aren’t considering it now, but will at some time in their lives. There are even those who have thought about it and, with more knowledge about what it takes for entrepreneurial success, decide not to do it and do not put personal or family start-up funds at risk. Finally, there is the student that has no interest now in entrepreneurship and will never be interested in it, but will be a better employee because she now knows what is important to her employer. She knows how businesses make money. Every student should have the opportunity to make an informed decision about entrepreneurship as a career path now or later in life. The foundation for that decision should begin in the k-12 system.

2. Entrepreneurship Education also provides a background for the teaching of academic subjects giving those studies a grounding in the real world. Entrepreneurship can be the answer to, “Why do I need to study this?” Math, science, writing and communication, history, geography, even the arts can be connected to today’s world through a connection to entrepreneurship. How will a scientist turn a discovery into income? How will an artist turn that talent into a family-supporting career? Every career and technical student with a skill to sell in the market place should consider the difference between finding a job and making their own job.

3. Research shows that the most creative students in the K-12 system are in kindergarten and first grade. As they move through the system, creative thinking is discouraged in favor of learning the “right” answer and being able to enter it on a test answer sheet. We need to nurture the creativity that the youngest of our students bring with them to their first days and years of school. The consideration of entrepreneurial opportunities preserves the innovative and creative thinking skills that exist in the very early grades, but disappear as students move toward high school graduation. There are many age and grade appropriate activities that introduce entrepreneurship to young children.  Middle school is when most students begin to think about career choices. Entrepreneurship should be part of that consideration. There is a compete spectrum of curriculum materials available to help every teacher integrate entrepreneurship education into their instruction and teach their state standards with a common sense connection to the real world around them and a way to  preserve the creative-thinking abilities of their students.

There are many pathways to entrepreneurial success and they are all accomplished by innovative and creative thinking, not by rote memorization. Looking for the alternative answer, the highly personalized answer, the innovative idea, keeps the creative thinking muscles strong as students move through the K-12 system.

4. Rural and urban communities suffer from brain drain. Sharp, young people who are forced to leave the area to find a good job and make a career. Students who do leave their communities frequently want to come back at some point in their lives, but alas, they can’t land a good job opportunity back home. Those same communities have needs unmet by businesses in their area. Young people who are creative, entrepreneurial thinkers can turn those unmet needs into business opportunities and stay in or return to their communities, generating employment and enlarging the local tax base.

In this age of educational accountability through standards and assessments with only one right answer and success measured by test scores, we need to keep young minds open for alternative ways of thinking, allow innovative ideas to spark and grow, to create an entrepreneurial culture that will grow great people and great communities. We need entrepreneurship education for every student, every year.

For more on entrepreneurship, see:

Gene
Gene Coulson Ed.D. is a Executive Director at Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Good points.
    It scares me when people say high school is early enough to introduce entrepreneurship.
    As a long time elementary teacher, I saw first hand how venture creation and critical and creative thinking helped young students see the relevance of what they were learning. The school walls stretch to encompass the community which then can impact the local economy.

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