Entrepreneurship is normally a subject taught in college, but various data points suggest that a lot happens at the K-12 level before entrepreneurs get to college. Below are some random thoughts about how such values can be inculcated, from my own experience as both an entrepreneurial scholar and the parent of a teenager.
Traditionally, Junior Achievement was the way to get kids to think past the lemonade stand into the opportunities provided by free enterprise. My wife taught several years at the elementary school level until she shifted to become a substitute teacher. Personally I think reaching everyone at a young age opens their eyes to the possibilities, even if their actualization is much later.
This week, the WSJ “Small Business Report” (advertising section) offered advice about how to raise an entrepreneur. After interviewing experts, pundits and actual entrepreneurs, writer Barbara Haislip suggested a list of six attributes:
- Adventurous: to explore and indulge their curiosity
- Dependable and Stable: have high standards
- Observant: have them see unmet needs
- Team Player, particularly through sports
- Lead by Example, from entrepreneurial parents
What does seem to be getting through to our daughter is the TV show “Shark Tank.” The staged confrontations don’t teach much — any more than the silliness of Idol or DWTS — but the issues that are salient certainly will stick with a young viewer. But personally, the value I see is in the ideation — some of the ideas are truly awful, but they show everyday people trying to build a better mousetrap, a few of which might actually cause the world to stand up and take notice.
Personally, I think it could be fun to combine all three. Take the WSJ checklist, do a brief lecture, watch an episode of Shark Tank and then debrief. Do this early in the year, before the JA program starts, so students are sensitized to the realworld implications of entrepreneurship (and perhaps watch other episodes, past their bedtime, to the consternation of their parents.)