18 Dec Why do We Teach Kids to be Entrepreneurs?
Whenever I make mention of where my passion lies, in teaching kids to be entrepreneurs, there is a quiet hush that comes over the audience and there are gentle nods of approval from the majority of people who will either weakly or strongly agree with varying degrees of knowing why they hold this view. Here are some of the well-known and not so well-known reasons why kids should be taught entrepreneurship:
- The world of traditional employment is shifting
In the PwC report entitled The Workforce of the Future- The Competing Forces shaping 2030, the report begs the question: “Will digital technology inevitably mark the end for large companies? Technology has allowed tiny businesses to tap into a vast reservoir of information, skills and financing that used to be available only to large organisations. Through the use of technology, small has become powerful. It’s also allowed large companies to drastically reduce their internal and external costs. Organisations can be more productive with fewer staff and can expand their operations (through contingent workers, for example) without having to invest significant amounts of capital. But once again, human agency plays its part.”
Human agency is undeniable, just as the landscape for formal employment is undeniably changing. The entrepreneur, with a well-honed ability to see an opportunity and the self-motivation to act independently, is not at the mercy of these trends and has the ability to carve a path through this change and capitalize on it. If we do not prepare kids now with this mindset, in 13 years time the future workforce will be left in the wake of rising unemployment.
- The education system is broken
Designed in the industrial age to suit a production line environment, education systems were built with not only the knowledge and skills to support this kind of economy but using pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) that instilled the values and mindset needed to perpetuate it.
Schools were set up with a central leadership figure who held the keys to learning, in an environment that rewarded conformity, with strict rules and punishments and required everyone to look the same, act the same and get measured against the same standards.
In a world that requires you to stand out, make a mark, think outside of the norms and challenge traditional thinking to get ahead, the school system does the opposite.
Entrepreneurs are naturally not conformists and there are countless anecdotes that speak to how kids that didn’t fit in at school became thriving entrepreneurs. I know a few myself. Teaching kids entrepreneurship counteracts the inability of the education system to prepare them for the reality they are stepping into.
- Kids can, when adults can’t.
Neuroplasticity in children is the ability for the brain to adapt and assimilate new information into the existing pathways that exist and expand upon the existing structures that have been formed in the brain. As the brain ages, the ability to adapt and assimilate becomes slower and the brain is not as agile at processing new stimulation. Children learn new languages more easily than adults because they do not have the neural pathways that are set in the language center of the brain to try and re-wire to accommodate a new language. They learn sports, musical instruments and try new things far easier than adults do because they have not yet understood the fear of failure or the concept of risk.
This is one of the foremost reasons for teaching entrepreneurship to kids. They don’t have the preconceived stigma attached to risk and failure. And by wiring the brain with the neuroplasticity it needs to adapt in a fast-paced, innovation-driven world, we are equipping kids with the ability to shape their own futures.
We can list unemployment statistics and small business failure rates quite easily as the motivations for teaching kids to be their own wealth creators, those reasons are valid and very real. These are some based in research and science and make for another layer of strength to the argument for which this business exists- it is too late to start entrepreneurial education once children have left school.
By Lisa Illingworth, co-founder and director of Wealth Creators