The world that today’s children are growing up into is changing at a pace that older generations likely never anticipated. Students preparing to graduate from Secondary School and begin a college life are finding that admissions officers and, ultimately, potential employers are increasingly more interested in their skills and experiences rather than simply just the knowledge and grades they have acquired. To help meet this challenge, more and more schools are including experiential learning as a normal part of school life. An example of such an idea, and one that BCIS is also actively pursuing is found in “Enterprise Education.”
What is Enterprise Education?
According to Collingwood College, Enterprise Education is the provision of learning opportunities that help students develop the attitude, knowledge and skills of the entrepreneur. In short, it enables students to develop confidence, self-reliance and a determination to succeed.
Learning about business and enterprise isn’t necessarily “new” in itself, but the nature of it has certainly shifted over time. Enterprise was previously a subject covered more in theory by looking at various business models, and the activities/stories of prominent entrepreneurs. Over the years, Enterprise Education has evolved into learning “through” enterprise, rather than learning “about” enterprise. This, in turn, has widened the overall appeal and scope of the subject across many age groups and demographics. Let us clarify these definitions by comparing them to how we look at learning in the workplace:
Learning about work means developing knowledge and understanding of the workplace.
Learning through work is about acquiring practical skills in a real working environment.
Learning for work is developing knowledge and skills directly relevant to a workplace.
Why is Enterprise Education Important?
The benefits of Enterprise Education are numerous and difficult to deny:
- It lets students know that starting one’s own business is a viable career option. Recruiters and corporations are no longer the be-all and end-all when considering life beyond school
- Reinforces basic skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT, all of which rank consistently high as priorities for employers, but also instil confidence in people to take the initiative to do more for themselves
- Develops personal finance capabilities – a help in both work and personal lives
- Provides a bridge between the world of work and the school environment
- Helps develop greater entrepreneurial spirit – another trait increasingly sought after
- It has generated a motivational approach to learning, fostering stronger self-esteem and a sense of purpose in students
- Develops commercial awareness, laying the foundation for a better understanding of how the world works
Enterprise can make the difference between students who simply “find” jobs after leaving college, and those who “create” jobs for themselves, and potentially others. It is clear, therefore, why schools like BCIS would actively encourage students to take part in these kinds of activities. An empowered and inspired youth of today is a generation of builders, creators and innovators for tomorrow.
At BCIS, students in Grade 8 participate in a full unit based on the idea of Enterprise Education. They call it “The Apprentice.” Students separate into groups, which then form a kind of small company. The company is named, and a brand identity created along with it. During the unit, the students learn about design, marketing, advertising and sales, while all the while injecting their own sense of altruism, pledging to donate the money they make to local charities. After creating their own lines of products, the school empowers them further by offering a stall at the largest community event of the year, Spring in the City.
The students managed to raise a staggering 34,000 RMB for local charity through their Enterprise, without losing a jot of the wonderful experience and inspiring qualities that come from building and creating something from scratch in a spirit of innovation and collaboration.