Friday, September 26, 2014

Can entrepreneurship be taught in classrooms?

Yeah, it can be taught. Entrepreneur, in layman's terms, is someone with a vision supplemented with a belief that it can be achieved and a craziness to take risks to achieve that. It's all about being creative in your approach. But is that happening in our classrooms? With what all I have seen so far, it's not the case, atleast in general.

Before going any further, I would remind you of a story which everyone of us has read or listened at some point of time in our life. The story of parent bird pushing its baby out of the nest so that it can learn to fly and more importantly can become independent. The same applies here. The students should be given the chance to become independent, but instead what happens is that most of them remain dependent on their parents till the age of 21 or 22 unlike in other foreign countries. So, when the ripe time comes to give a shape to their ideas, they are just not confident enough of themselves, the reason being that they were never given a chance to make independent decisions. And thus the entrepreneur in them just remains inside and it never comes out.

And the same is true with our classrooms and teachers. An "F" is always discouraged while on the other hand something like "A" or "A+" is appreciated. The sad part is that it is affecting both groups of students. The one who is getting an "A" thinks that he just cannot fail and thus grow up with a mentality that makes sure that he never takes any risk in his life and always chooses a path that has been declared as the road to success by our society. And this is just the opposite of entrepreneurship and thus many bright minds never think of building something of their own. The ones who are getting an "F" might be interested in something else like sports, music, dance or some other form of art that is not regarded as a part of main curriculum. So, when they get such low grades, teachers and parents force them to leave their interests and ask them to focus on their studies instead of seeing what they are interested in and supporting them to follow their dreams. See the point is only when we would change our perspective and come out of the bubble that we live in, we inculcate such creativity in the students. Coming back to what I was discussing, there can be a different thing with the ones who are getting low grades. Maybe they are very good at a subject and perform badly at some others. They are also discouraged in our society which has a tendency to create the average- the ones who can fair well in all, but become good at nothing. Such is the structure of our education system. Generally, teachers don't like students thinking out of the box because they might not be having answers for their questions. Or maybe one need not to think like that and just need to follow the curriculum and the prescribed books just like we do have prescribed medicines. But these students are not sick. They are just thinking what you never tried to ponder over, in short they are trying to be creative and they don't need your medicines. Rather what they need is your support and encouragement to understand the subjects, the things around them in a little bit better way. And while suppressing their quest for knowledge, you are tuning off the creative person - the entrepreneur in him. And what it leads to is that the child stops asking questions so as avoid the embarrassment because of the feeling that starts to dawn on him that all this makes him look like an idiot.

This is what needs to be changed. Instead of burdening them with books of which they understand nothing, let them play with the colors, let them interact with the nature, let them produce something original, something of their own. Instead of making them memorize science facts, let them build some robot of their own, let them practically understand why the density of ice is less than that of water, what causes it and what does it cause, let them practically understand that salt water conducts electricity and what all implications/applications it can have. Instead of making them memorize history dates, tell them why that particular date is important and what all lessons can we learn from that particular historical event, instead of getting stuck at the history of pre-independent India, tell them some history of post-independence too. That's also of some good value.

Oh, wait!! But we were talking of entrepreneurship? What these things have got to do with that?  Well, bear with me for a few more moments and you will get to know what these things have got in common. So why stop at science and history, the same can be said for subjects like value education, environmental education and disaster management, the subjects which are of great value in real sense but somehow have become a kind of joke in our schools seeing the way they are being taught and in fact at many of the schools they are just there for some reason that only God knows and are not being taught at all.
Focusing on the importance of these subjects, only when these little kids, these young minds are given an exposure of what problems our society is facing, what all limitations are there that we need to overcome, what's the disaster management scenario in the country, how badly the environment is getting affected and what all major implications it is having for them and to the whole world, only when they feel these things that they can become interested in a particular domain or find some really cool, creative ideas and possibility does exist that they would become passionate enough to pursue their dreams in the same field. And then you go on to call them "SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS". But first and foremost, give them the exposure and the chance to do so!!

See what I want to say is that it starts with exposure which leads to interest and then those who are crazy enough go on to change the world. And for that we don't need to give some extra load of one more subject something which our schools would go on to say as "ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION". No, that would be totally useless considering the case of what happened with other subjects. Rather we need to change our approach towards learning. Let it be "breadth first, depth second" because only then someone can find what he is really interested in. And when they take these baby steps gradually becoming more creative in their approach or if I say "retaining the creativity" that they had as a kid for everything that surrounds them, it would help them not only to become a great entrepreneur but would serve them throughout their life, wherever they go, whatever they do. 

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