An entrepreneurial education

Back when I was a teenager the word entrepreneur didn’t exist, purpose wasn’t a priority, and passion was reserved for Hollywood, not the classroom. So, I guess the education system of the day can be partially excused for not catering for people who valued individuality. 

Sadly, I don’t think education has changed much in the past 50 years. From the time I went to school to the time my children attended school, the subjects taught and methods of teaching were almost identical. Even today’s students – who live in a very different world, with many different values – are being taught the same reading, writing and arithmetic I was served up many decades ago in the draughty classrooms of the Stowe School.

I find this to be baffling and appalling. How can we arm the next generation of thought leaders, changemakers and innovators with the knowledge and experience they need to make a positive difference in the world, if we continue to teach them archaic lessons with little or no significance to modern day life?  And more importantly, are we setting them up for disaster if we neglect to empower them with the capacity and skills they need to navigate and build tomorrow’s economy?

We need to transform education to create more effective outcomes for students, and the best way to do this is to integrate real world and experiential learning into the education process. With this in mind, I was thrilled to meet CEO of the Junior Achievement (JA) of Georgia, Jack Harris, at a recent Virgin Unite gathering on Necker Island.

The largest organisation in the world dedicated to educating students on entrepreneurship, career readiness and financial literacy, JA is driving partnerships to transform the framework of education. It’s a wonderful model, which through providing a project-based, highly engaging and relevant education is helping students find their passions, grow their purpose, and realise their dreams. 

Alternative systems of teaching like JA and London’s School 21 – who joined us at our last Virgin Disruptors debate – are the way of the future. Not only do they inspire passionate young people, they fuel the entrepreneurial spirit, and cultivate a culture of success.

Students need to be inspired by the world around them, and schools have an opportunity to kick-start this. Parents, teachers and students should challenge the status quo and call for education to enter the 21st century.


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