When we think about the term entrepreneurship, we think of words like business, enterprise, capital, franchise etc. A glaring error, we tend to associate an interesting subject with only “business”. But entrepreneurship education is more than business, it’s more than creating mini capitalists. Just like early childhood education prepares children to be prepared for formal schooling, entrepreneurship education helps students prepare themselves better for their post-school future.
But how do we do that? Ask yourself first whether entrepreneurship can teach children valuable life skills that are often lost in quotidian classroom instruction. The answer is probably yes but don’t confuse teaching children home economics with entrepreneurship. Before teaching our children, we, as educators and parents, need to see the subject as something broader, a programme that acts as a catalyst to the individual’s growth. We need to raise lifelong learners and agile thinkers for a world losing its grip on traditional jobs.
It surprises children to see entrepreneurship as a theoretical subject in schools; “While studying entrepreneurship in school, I realised the curriculum focuses on theory more than the practical aspect. As students, we wish to attain practical knowledge and skills that will help us to understand the importance of not just business ownership but living as a confident individual with a balanced life as well. For this to happen, we need the voice of real experience along with focus on developing practical and life skills,” says Abhimanyu Singh, a class 12 student from commerce stream.
Entrepreneurship education aims at giving individuals the space to envision what their future might look like while learning how their own passion and skills can be channelled in a certain way. What skills, you may ask? Our children need transversal skills such as innovative and critical thinking, the ability to function in teams, to be an information literate, self-aware and motivated.
What role does entrepreneurship education play here? It helps students to believe that they are confident and selfsufficient, they have values, skills and passion, they have the ability to put their point of view forward, they can be good leaders as well as team members while being on board with the ideas the team has; igniting the belief to make something better happen. It equips young people with the adaptability and attitude required for an unpredictable future while providing them with a greater understanding of the real world. The psychological barriers are broken efficiently and smoothly when students are given the chance to understand how this real world works while meeting the employers and employees.
There is an urgent need to equip young people with life skills because they don’t value fulfilment and are left in a maze without any knowledge on how to reach the final destination. Why and how does that happen? Because it doesn’t exist in their lexicon of terms; they are brainwashed with the pattern - study hard, score a perfect grade and move to the next challenge.
Pradeep Mishra, Founder & CEO, Leader to Creator, believes, “The general perception is that entrepreneurship is all about business education. Few understand it as an extended part of their curriculum. I was often asked whether studying entrepreneurship will fetch students better credit scores or placements. It troubled me how wrong our perception of entrepreneurship education is. Entrepreneurship is an amalgamation of various skills and majority of them are soft in nature. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset requires working with the generation Z at an early age.”
The entrepreneurship education for young minds includes four broadly divided skill sets namely business skills, enterprise skills, spiritual skills and life skills. Children learn business skills through “observations in controlled environment” and life skills through “project work and live workshops.”
“Life skills are the most discussed yet least understood skill set. Imparting life skills is even more challenging. It includes problem solving, critical thinking, public speaking, interpersonal communication skills, decision making, leadership, personality enhancement, stress management, discipline, problem recognition, time management, goal setting, strategy formation and brainstorming,” Mishra adds.
Instead of teaching life skills through the traditional moral science class, entrepreneurship education can be a fun, impactful and engaging alternative. “When looked at closely, the major content of entrepreneurship curriculum is all about life skills as they are the foundation of a productive life. And the best part is that all the skills can be learned,” says Mishra.
You might ask, what kind of life skills?
Entrepreneurship teaches children that sometimes the goal is to get to the next stoplight. And it may take up to six months or more to get there. Students understand the need for grit or perseverance for success as overnight successes are a myth. They learn to keep going even when things take the wrong turn. They are able to delay gratification on their road to creating their own product.
An epitome of problem solving, entrepreneurship teaches students that it’s a constant juggling act when developing a new business. They are solving problems, making decisions, thinking creatively, learning from their choices while solving for product market fit, deciding on pricing strategies, social strategy, sales strategy, new features, customer support etc.
Post launching a product or service, an entrepreneur may wish to understand the performance through feedback from customers. This understanding requires focus, critical thinking and remaining calm while looking at intricate details and suggestions. Instead of getting defensive, the child will learn to listen to the market, learn about new potential features and accept negative feedback.
Most importantly, we never teach our children how to deal with failure effectively. Entrepreneurship education does that effectively! Letting students fail can, at times, be the best thing for a healthy growth not only in entrepreneurship but also in life. Failure teaches them the importance of trying and taking the leap forward.
Even small startups or business such as running a lemonade stand can teach individuals about money management. An excellent finance lesson that requires logical thinking, students learn to develop a budget detailing revenue while being able to judge whether they are making profit or loss.
Finally, their entrepreneurial endeavours teach them skills of management and leadership. They work with other students, suppliers, marketers, retailers as well as customers for their product to thrive in the market. Learning to become street smart and developing people skills goes a long way in all fields.
We live in a digital age where the youth are crawling under a heap of expectations, at the expense of their mental health, to keep up with the rat race. And if they wanted to listen to a fable, they would listen to an audiobook on YouTube. They need to know how to face an interview – enhance their body language along with vocal cues while carefully observing the interviewee and the atmospherics.
This example is just a drop in the vast ocean of entrepreneurship education and its capability to inculcate life skills in the coming generations. Years of monotony have compelled them to perceive entrepreneurship as another subject to score in. The education system needs to break free of this monotony and take the risk of making entrepreneurship education more than just a business class.
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