Three tips for starting entrepreneurship education
by Eemeli Alanne, Advisory Teacher for Entrepreneurship Education at City of Oulu
Let’s imagine that you get an email from your principal that your task is to develop your school’s entrepreneurship education. The principal wants you to create a plan which brings entrepreneurship to the everyday life of the school, not just another elective course. In my work, I come across these kinds of situations, when schools start to develop their entrepreneurship education. I’ll share my tips for them now with you.
My first tip is to use entrepreneurship broadly in teaching and learning. Entrepreneurship can be the content for teaching. You can do courses and modules on entrepreneurship and through that strengthen the skills and knowledge of students about entrepreneurship. Not all students necessarily participate in those courses, so how can we also give them experiences in entrepreneurship? Let’s use entrepreneurship as the method for teaching. Let the students ideate a solution to a problem or come up with a business idea, and through the process, they will learn to present, calculate, argument and cooperate. If you can create a mixture of the two, you are on your way to creating an entrepreneurial culture inside the school, and entrepreneurship becomes a value for the school. This way can convince your fellow teachers to try entrepreneurship education, but a bit more is needed to make it happen. Let’s jump to tip number two!
My second tip is to do a mindset update for all educators inside the school. Entrepreneurship education should be student-centered, take place in a real-life setting, and be built around interaction with others. Mindset update means that we should shift from a teacher-centered approach to student-centered, from traditional teaching to coaching and guiding, from telling the answers to guiding towards the answers, and from talking to doing. Other words that I’d like to include in the update are guide, coach, co-create, learn, encourage and trust. The reason why we need the update for educators is that the enthusiasm spreads from teachers to students. If the teacher is excited and open-minded, most likely the students will follow. Entrepreneurship education does not require a business degree or a long career as an entrepreneur. Learn together with the students and let the students take responsibility for the learning. Now we have updated the mindsets and have different ways to approach the topic. How do you then actually start doing entrepreneurship education? On to the third and final tip.
My third tip is about using the existing tools and materials to start. I like the mantra “try, love, and apply”. Entrepreneurship education is a global phenomenon, which means there are global networks and tools for teachers to use. There are non-profit organizations such as Junior Achievement who operate in more than a hundred countries on different continents and offer programs and materials to use in entrepreneurship education. The turn-key materials offer an easy start for entrepreneurship education, but I encourage you to take on the mantra of “try, love, and apply”. Take a material, try it out, love it and apply it to your teaching.
My three tips for starting with entrepreneurship education are to use entrepreneurship broadly, update the mindsets of educators and try out different existing methods and apply them to your needs. My bonus tip for you is to remember that an entrepreneurial school isn’t built in one day nor one year. It’s a continuously evolving process that needs support and commitment from the leadership as well as the teaching staff. If you need any help with starting up or developing further, I’m happy to help.
Eemeli Alanne (Master of Arts in Education) works as the advisory teacher for entrepreneurship education at the City of Oulu. He has worked with entrepreneurship education for more than seven years with different roles. He has a master’s degree in education & globalization (MA) and is currently doing MBA in leading sustainable growth.
Eemeli is energetic and passionate about the things he does. Working with him is not only about talking, it’s about doing, which is at the core of entrepreneurial behaviour.