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 to grow our communities from the inside out. We need entrepreneurship education for every student, every year. The answer is to establish an entrepreneurial culture in every school and every community.
Preserves creative thinking and problem solving
The consideration of entrepreneurial opportunities preserves the innovative and creative thinking skills that exist in the very early grades, but disappear as student move toward high school graduation. There are pathways to entrepreneurial success and they are accomplished by analysis and creative thinking, not by rote memorization.
Benefits every student
Entrepreneurship education benefits every student. 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 after 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.
Supports academic learning
Using entrepreneurship education as a background for the teaching of academic subjects gives 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. Every student should have the opportunity to make an informed decision about entrepreneurship as a career path.
Addresses “brain drain.”
Rural communities suffer from brain drain; sharp, young people who are forced to leave the area to make a career. When these bright minds leave a community, it is a real loss to the community. 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 their communities, generating employment and enlarging the local tax base.
Provides career choices
Entrepreneurship education should begin in kindergarten. We need to nurture the creativity that the youngest of our students bring with them to their first days and years of school. 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.
Makes communities healthier
Communities with an entrepreneurial culture are more stable, financially healthier and more dynamic communities. Think about any town or city with a healthy, thriving, dynamic business core and you will find an entrepreneurial culture. How better to start building a more entrepreneurial culture than with the young people who are already in the community?
Creates a healthier state economy
The largest percentage of new hiring in nearly any state comes from small businesses. Small businesses create a diversity in the state economy that can act as a buffer when the winds of economic change damage one industry or another. Finally, entrepreneurship provides an alternative to the economic drag on the state economy that results from layoffs and reduced employment due to plant or mine closures.
Entrepreneurship education means many different things to educators – from elementary schools to university, from vocational education to a university MBA, from kindergarten to adulthood. At each level of education, it is reasonable to expect different outcomes as students mature and build on previous knowledge. But the overall purpose remains to develop knowledge, then expertise, as an entrepreneur.