As outlined in my last post, Yong Zhao argues that our existing reform agenda for schools is misguided because it is premised on a factory-model of education that aims to prepare people for an outdated workplace that is no longer their future. He calls for a paradigm shift whereby education aims to produce ....entrepreneurs!
According to the World Economic Forum, entrepreneurship is:
a process that results in creativity, innovation and growth. Innovative entrepreneurs come in all shapes and forms; its benefits are not limited to startups, innovative ventures and new jobs. Entrepreneurship refers to an individual's ability to turn ideas into action and is therefore a key competence for all, helping young people to be more creative and self-confident in whatever they undertake.
As such, entrepreneurship is not limited to those who start businesses and maximise profits. Rather, it is the capacity to innovate, to enact change and to harness opportunity. Historically, entrepreneurs have been only a select few people, but in the brave new world, the entrepreneurial skillset is more akin to the basic survival skills that we will all need.
Yong Zhao argues that our educational system effectively squashes entrepreneurship in its emphases on compliance, standardisation, the downplaying of creativity and the focus on the traditional progression through the education and career. Our schools produce good employees, rather than good entrepreneurs. Our potential for creativity and enterprise can be suppressed or amplified; too often, schools suppress.
The answer is not to teach entrepreneurship as curriculum. In all likelihood, the curriculum standards, guidelines, assessment and evaluation would be antithetical to the cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit and skills!
So, before going to Yong Zhao's suggested solutions, what do we make of his case?
I find his point disturbing, as it challenges much that we value and esteem in our schools. Our schools do reward compliance and look askance at deviation from the norms. Divergent thinkers are not comfortably accommodated in many classrooms. Our emphasis on covering the content, especially in the senior years, narrows the focus for our students. Very often the students who experience most 'success' are those who are able to harness their capacity and produce what they are expected to.
to be continued