The current school system views each student as a grade on a spreadsheet. Each child is a potential ‘A’ on a league table, and each teacher is an investment to achieve that score.
The problem with this system is that a student could finish high school with straight As but still not know how to collaborate with people and solve problems in a real-world environment.
While you may be able to find the square-root of pi, independent thinking and innovative creativity remain deeply buried under fact-regurgitation and quick memory recall.
Individual ability is squeezed out by a standardized assessment system that brands your level of ability for years to come.
This system was perfect for the industrialized economy it was created for, but the 21st century requires a whole new skillset.
Diligence and efficiency are no longer valued human skills, as Artificial Intelligence and automation streamline tasks that require speed and accuracy over creative thought.
The classroom environment of memorizing important facts has been made redundant by tech which can store data in its masses and accurately implement information for a specific purpose.
But schools can give students the opportunity to rise to the challenge of the automated era through encouraging students to engage with entrepreneurship.
This was the vision of Rashmi Kathuria, a maths teacher at Kulachi Hansraj Model School in Delhi, India.
“After being a maths teacher for 23 years, I saw students were studying very hard and doing well, but after school they were still failing to get jobs and didn’t have the relevant skills to start a business,” she told Study International.
Inspired to help students gain skills which are going to help them in the real world, Kathuria introduced the School Enterprise Challenge to encourage students to engage with business development.
Entrepreneurship allows students to develop critical thinking, creativity and innovation, crucial skills in the 21st century economy these students will be entering and leading.
In a time when the good stories seem to be few and far between, I am thrilled with the whole area of social entrepreneurship education. Imbuing our youngest and most energetic thinkers with a sense of purpose seems vitally important to me. https://t.co/4JFchfKeQ3
— Robert Todd Felton (@rtfelton) December 19, 2017
“Being involved in the enterprise has fostered 21st century skills amongst the members, enhancing their skills of critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, communication and collaboration, citizenship and student leadership,” Raminder Mac, Dean of International Affairs at Choithram School, India, who is taking part in the School Enterprise Challenge, told Study International.
“The enterprise gives students experiential learning and exposure of real-market situation, which they would not attain through textbook knowledge.”
With the earth’s resources quickly depleting and technology promising to revolutionize our economy, students gain benefit from gaining entrepreneurial skills they can directly apply to the real world.
“Entrepreneurship is a dynamic process. It’s concerned with not one, but many core skills required for success. It makes a person flexible and competent, and helps us develop a better understanding of problems around us and pushes us to look for new and effective solutions,” Chelsea Sawlani, student and general manager of Good Earth told Study International.
… #Entrepreneurship is a vital cog in today's #education system not only at the graduate and postgraduate levels but also at the primary and the secondary school levels.
Entrepreneurship education: A vital cog in today's education system https://t.co/gna7kRAcKV
— Ozge Demeter (@DemeterOzge) December 20, 2017
Requiring a varied skillset, enterprise in schools encourages students to embrace their individual talents.
The traditional school system attempts to shoehorn a standardized curriculum into the unique minds of learners. But programs such as the School Enterprise Challenge allow students to identify their particular strengths and build a team to complete projects.
“Enterprise is needed in the curriculum because it allows different kinds of students to be involved. Normally education tries to assess students in the same way but businesses need lots of different talent to succeed,” said Kathuria.
Mac said that through the Enterprise Challenge, she has seen her students become more aspirational as they have become more confident in their abilities.
Although there were challenges along the way, the school business has allowed the students to develop effective problem-solving strategies and emotional resilience to stress.
“We came across various challenges which we had never thought of, and we learned how teamwork and mutual support could help us get out of them. The enterprise not only made us skillfully rich but also embodied in us the sense of being in a team and respecting each other’s opinions,” said Nikita Soni, a student at Choithram School who is a member of the Youth Advisory Panel of School Enterprise Challenge
Timi Ariyo, recent graduate from the University of Bristol, set up a music agency, Syn Cyr Records, during his studies. He told Study International: “I learnt to plan and manage my time around studies and events. I had to make sure I was being efficient with my time, and I also learnt how to interact with business, which has done me in good stead now working in a company that involves a lot of interesting clients and corporate behavior.”
Ariyo also said the experience taught him how to professionally manage and resolve conflict and deal with mistakes.
Enterprise gives students the unique opportunity to understand the costs and benefits of risk taking, communication skills and the importance of collaboration. The role of education is to prepare students for the future, and these are the skills the future will need.