“How many students who participate in “enterprise activities” go on to become entrepreneurs?”
So I was asked this week. It stumped me for a while but it set off a line of thought which I wanted to explore. It seems that Enterprise in Education has been around ever since the Margaret Thatcher set up TVEI in 1982, whilst Young Enterprise goes back even further to the early 60’s.
One of the implicit outcomes of such schemes is that they will encourage an entrepreneurial mentality and generate economic benefits to society. However, I can find no evidence that any of these have directly resulted in more entrepreneurs or growth in the economy – although I invite anyone to correct that assertion.
Looking back over the last 20 years education has successfully turned the rather offensive idea of wealth creation into a more educationally acceptable activity which is about promoting enterprising attitudes – an outcome much more palatable to the sensitivities of those of us in education. The two graphics linked to this post perhaps characterise the fears that many teachers have had about promoting capitalism in schools, i.e. greed, selfishness and a focus on money at the expense of all else.
I wanted to consider how things might be different if we were more explicit about the outcomes of “enterprise” in schools. What if we really did encourage children to set up businesses which were focussed on making money – which the child kept? What if we found ways of supporting them with loans and advice about how to make more money from their ideas? Imagine a 13 year old who sets up her own dog walking business in a town and receives financial support and advice to get her idea off the ground.
I love the idea behind the Grameen Bank established in Bangladesh:
Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity.
Could we establish a Scottish version of such a scheme where young people could access loans to set up their own company? Could Tom Hunter take the place of Muhammad Yunus in an enterprising Scotland?
Perhaps its just me but I think such an opportunity would have excited me as a teenager.