The classroom teacher as entrepreneur … a daring thought

Education and reform….

I can count on one hand the times I have read or heard about entrepreneurship education in mainstream media. The crisis of education, NCLB (No child left behind) legislation, standardized testing, violence in the classroom, school funding…on and on and on. Yes, there is a consensus — Overall the current K-12 education is in need of reform.

Education and Innovation

Education reform doesn’t occur in a vacuum there are hundreds of programs, projects and initiatives taking place throughout the country. It’s an exciting and challenging time to be in the field of education. It’s fertile ground for innovation and creativity in teaching methods and delivering educational services and processes.

Teachers as agents of change

I wonder how many teachers consider themselves entrepreneurs? … a daring thought. Let me unpack that idea — How many teachers are entrepreneurial in their approach to education/teaching? I don’t think its something we think about very often? Our educational lexicon contains words like curriculum and development, pedagogy, learning standards, rubrics, outcomes, Master Teacher, Bloom’s Taxomony, experiential learning, ESL, early childhood development, etc – Educators have a working knowledge of these concepts. I continue to search out the lexicons with the word entrepreneur or entrepreneurship, I haven’t found one yet. Okay, so I am stretching the definition … really thinking outside the box

Let’s take a closer look – if you’re in the field of education and you’re reading this posting – Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial in your approach to teaching? How do educators describe their role and responsibilities as a classroom teacher? My primary role as educator is to create an environment which engages and animates students in their learning process. To keep kids actively engaged requires using tools and strategies that are youth-friendly. Learning is about wonder, discovery, creativity, team work, collaboration and thinking critically. I ask the question — how can I bring “real world experiences” into the classroom? It requires thinking entrepreneurially… seeing possibilities, reaching out into the community, building bridges. The teacher as agent of change, working to accelerate innovation and creating value in the community.


So, what is entrepreneurship education?

In an earlier post (April 5-your click counts) the numbers indicated educators are not on the same page with youth entrepreneurship education.

So, what are the components, the context for youth entrepreneurship education? The survey highlighted key areas: integrated curriculum (Q3), structured learning environments (Q2), strong connection with the community at large, mentoring (Q7), innovative thinking (Q6), creativity and risk assessment (Q4).

In “YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Theory, Practice and Field Development” a background paper prepared by John Cleveland, Richard Anderson, Sarah Anderson and Peter Plastrick, youth entrepreneurship is defined “Youth entrepreneurship involves the development of entrepreneurial attitudes, skills and opportunities for young people, from middle school through young adulthood (e.g. 25 yrs old).” In that same paper the authors define entrepreneurship education as “the use of a structured learning environment and support tools” fostering skills development enabling individuals to become entrepreneurs.

The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education defines it in these words: “Entrepreneurship education seeks to prepare people, especially youth to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities.”

As a secondary educator that definition resonates with my experience working with youth. I give a resounding yes, entrepreneurship education teaches students self reliance; survey respondents also agreed (see below):

Q4 Entrepreneurship education teaches students to increase their self reliance.

Agree (4) and Strongly Agree (5)

  • (4) 18%, (5) 64% – Elementary Educators
  • (4) 31%, (5) 62% – HS Educators – Instructors
  • (4) 75%, (5) 25% – HS Educators – non Instructors
  • (4) 20%, (5) 60% – College/University Educators

Connecting the dots…

A few days off for R/R. A closer look at the survey findings and earlier postings-can the dots be connected? can threads be woven together? The survey design identified potential areas that would advance youth entrepreneurship education in IL. The sections were as follows:

Section I – What is Entrepreneurship Education (Q1 – Q7)?
Section II – Potential areas for advancing entrepreneurship education (Q8 – Q15).
Section III – Developing Integrated Systems (Q16 – Q20).
Section IV – Teacher Training (Q21 – Q24)
Section V – Future Directions (Q25 – Q26)
Section VI – Your Thoughts (Q27)
Section VII – Demographics (Q28 – Q36).

Stay tune –for Section I – What is Entrepreneurship Education?

Youth Entrepreneurship Education – are educators on the same page?

One learning (among many) from the YEE survey… educators are not on the same page when it comes to youth entrepreneurship education. I wasn’t too surprised with the range of Q1 [There is a general consensus among elementary and high school teachers of what constitutes entrepreneurship education.] The responses leaned more towards the left of the scale (2-disagree). However, there is a quite a difference between elementary and high school educators, and those at the college/university level.
Disagree (2) – Strongly Disagree (1) with Q1

  • 58% of elementary (5-8) educators
  • 63% of high school educators
  • 100% of college/university educators

Though the number of respondents differ among each group (5-8, 12; HS, 57; and college/university, 7) the findings suggest educators (5-16+) are aware of the disconnect to what constitutes youth entrepreneurship education.

This was illustrated again in Q2 [Entrepreneurship education is learning how to apply innovative thinking in the core content areas of math, history, science and English.]
Agree (4) and Strongly Agree (5)

  • 42% – Elementary Educators (42% selected 3)
  • 51% – HS Educators (28% selected 3)

Disagree (2) and Strongly Disagree (1)

  • 60% – College/University Educators

The findings, quite a spread between 5 – 12 grade levels and the collegiate level. Innovative thinking, perhaps it’s teachers applying innovative thinking within the curriculum. As one educator stated:

  • Mandate at least one unit of study on entrepreneurship in several subject areas a. English–reading a book about it, write a research paper on it b. Social studies–study globalization and changes in economics, e-commerce, etc., etc., c. Teach the math skills so that students can make projections in business plans d. Start a business with a science purpose/ connection e.g., save the planet, save the Panda, conserve water, clean the air, find alternative energy sources, etc.”

Another educator is faced with the challenges of an integrative curriculum and high school graduation requirements. —

  • “How can we do high school classes that help student’s meet high school requirements? We know that integrated curriculum is much more effective then silo education (i.e. separate math, science, English) but graduation requirements are based on this traditional way of looking at education. We need to be supporting integrated curriculum and allow for non traditional ways of meeting graduation requirements.”

Q3 Entrepreneurship education increases students’ abilities to think across the core content areas of math, history, science and English. There was greater consensus with this question than with Q2.

Q3 Agree (4) – Strongly Agree (5)

  • 74% of elementary (5-8) educators
  • 80% of high school educators
  • 60% of college/university educators

A starting point for what constitutes youth entrepreneurship education?

The Best Practices for Youth Entrepreneurship Education

Practices leading to successful youth entrepreneurship education programming

The Youth Entrepreneurship Education survey listed 12 practices and the respondents ranked them using the scale 1 – least important through 5 – most important.

The numbers are in … combining 4 and 5 (most important) of the scale

According to our 125 respondents … A Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program is successful if

12. Requiring service learning projects of students. – 63%
11. Youth participating in university sponsored summer entrepreneurship camps. – 77 %
10. Small Businesses endorsing entrepreneurship education and demonstrating how entrepreneurs impact economic development in Illinois. – 83%
9. Connecting high schools with university entrepreneurship programs. – 83%
8. Teaching students the mechanics of writing a business plan. – 85%
7. Understanding the innovation economy and the changing nature of work. – 90%
6. The Illinois State Legislature supporting entrepreneurship education initiatives with state level appropriations. – 93%
5. Students interacting with entrepreneurs in the community. – 94%
4. Exposing students to real economic risks through project based learning. – 96%
3. Placing students in summer internships. – 97%
2. Cultivating community and business connections with schools. –97 %

And the practice rated number 1 — as contributing to a successful youth entrepreneurship education program:

1. Providing students with “real world” and/or experiential learning. – 100%

What has been your experience with the practices listed for successful youth entrepreneurship education?

Your click is being counted

Thanks to the 125 respondents throughout the state of Illinois who completed the YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION survey — your time and input will help shape an agenda to advance youth entrepreneurship education.

OK, my click counts…now what? Your clicks and comments are being tallied, crunched, analyzed and formatted to be distributed to those who requested the findings. In the meantime, the idea to create a “your click counts” blog (as one medium of distribution) emerged with the intent to keep the momentum building by posting new learnings and insights, as well as, generating feedback.

Findings will be posted for comments and insights.

Hello from ALL Sides!

pmt1.jpgALL Sides” invites and encourages the input and insights of those interested in youth entrepreneurship education.

What is youth entrepreneurship education? What does it look like? How is it delivered?

This question was “unpacked” in the “Youth Entrepreneurship Education Survey” disseminated throughout Illinios. Quite a task!

Special Thanks to several partnering agencies who helped disseminate the survey: Illinois Institute for Enterpreneurship Education (IIEE), Illinois Council for Economic Education(ICEE), Millikin Regional Entrepreneurship Network and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

Survey developers: Harold Welsch, PhD; DePaul University, College of Business and Management; Ida Manning, IIEE; and, Pat Tomich, Pat’s Business Design.

Most of all SPECIAL THANKS to those 125 respondents throughout the state of Illinois who took the time to complete the survey!