Our industrial educated brain will tell us what it thinks we need to hear to keep us safe. It does not want us to get hurt, whether physical, emotionally, or spiritually and it will stop us from taking the risks necessary to make change happen. Don’t be too hard on yourself for thinking this way, we, in the western world, are the result of an education system that was developed to create an army of compliant workers for an industrial and manufacturing workforce to service a society focused on consumption.
I did not fully understand this concept until quite recently. The start of this understanding came when I saw a re-run of ‘leave it to Beaver’. In this short piece, I watched June Cleaver, the mother, make sandwiches for her son and his friends. She individually wrapped each sandwich in cellophane, put them on a plate and walked them out to the driveway where the boys were playing basketball, about 25 feet away. The idea that you could now buy something, use it, and throw it away with no concern for the impact this behaviour had on our society, the economy, or the environment, was the start of the trend to buy-buy-buy. If we are not buying, our economies are declining. Our education system has taught us to work hard – get a good education – follow the rules – put in your time AND you will be rewarded with pay to buy new things. This mentality is changing, but it is hard to change 100 years of social education with 14+ years of individual education.
Entrepreneurism is one of the best cures for this fear of non-compliance. Becoming an entrepreneur gives a perspective that has less fear around fitting in. It rewards the risky behaviour of not following the education plan. More schools are offering entrepreneurship as a course or a full program. There is a huge challenge with this as it is known that to be fully entrepreneurial you need to be free to take action, make ‘It’ happen, envision, create, implement, and sell. If a student is in school and envisions an opportunity, how can they follow through without leaving school? Society still looks down on not finishing school. If they get a business idea but stay in school to finish, it is likely they will fail at entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur must learn to take action, but with all the work in school, it is hard to do both. A very difficult balance.
For schools hoping to create a larger pool of entrepreneurs, my feeling is that we must have shorter, more intensive programs lead and taught by entrepreneurs.
For students wanting to take entrepreneurship in school, look for programs that encourage early graduation when the creation of your business is achieved.
Understand that a school is technically a business. It has a requirement to keep their funding in place and that is based on this outdated mandate to fill their programs. They use these metrics to determine their success:
- The number of ‘funding units’ (you) in each program.
- The program’s successful track record for job placement.
This makes me ask:
- If a program, like entrepreneurship, cannot show success by job placement then what metrics will ensure capacity enrollment?
- If a program is not well attended because less money is put on marketing it, will it be cut even if it is a successful global trend?
- What can we use to measure successful graduation from a non-industrial focused program like entrepreneurship?
There is a fear within the education system that stops people from making a serious change. A change that is needed to support the transition of our students into fearless entrepreneurs.
If two things changed in these systems everything might change.
- The structure of education to maintain income cannot stop a new entrepreneur from creating and starting a business – it must support it.
- Entrepreneurism cannot be taught by teachers that have never been entrepreneurs.
A quick story to demonstrate this mismatched mentality.
|I was having dinner at a friend’s one night. She had invited another couple and they were both very intelligent, well education and working in the education system at the post-secondary level. We were discussing entrance requirements and teacher education levels when I said something that did not sit well with her, a Ph.D. candidate. I asked, ‘why is there a requirement for a teacher at a college level in a non-degree program to have a masters’ degree?” She clearly became defensive and said, “If the student decides that they want to go on to get a general degree or a masters’ degree it will make the path easier.
I was so surprised that the focus of education was to continue to sell more education instead of quality, skills-matched training required by the students for their life.
We are educating our students to feel the need to purchase more education so they can feel worthy to participate in the workforce. But this should not be true for entrepreneurs. They will never feel good enough if there is always something they need to complete before they start their business. This will lead to perfection paralysis, the inability to start something because they are not 100% ready.
Let’s teach our students to think slowly, deliberately about their path, and plan with confidence so that they can do what they envision can be done.
They need to think slow about their implementation and be quick to use their abilities. They need to be free of the industrial fear of being different and free to change their direction without finishing what they started so they can be open to successful change and opportunity.
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