This is the third in a series about Small-town entrepreneurship. Read “SmallTown, Inc” and “The SmallTown Founder” by clicking the appropriate link.

 

Schools don’t teach entrepreneurship. They should, but they can’t.

 

Our education system was built on an agro-industrial model. Students are still prepared to work in factory-like settings; and they still take summers off to work in the fields. The primary lessons in school aren’t logic, management or creativity, but instead focus on fulfilling specific tasks. They’re trained to show up every day, sit in one spot without disturbing others, and to complete assigned tasks. Seth Godin is my favorite author on the subject.

 

Our schools can’t teach entrepreneurship because the teachers they employ are products of the same agro-industrial system. They’re unionized and pensioned. It might be hard to get a teaching job now, but it’s even harder to lose one. Teachers have chosen the safe, predictable path. It’s not reasonable to expect them to teach entrepreneurship, even if that’s the path our economy is taking. And entrepreneurs aren’t going to teach high school courses, either.

 

I took my first business class in the tenth grade. Our teacher was a former business owner. His furniture store went out of business, so he took the “safe route” and became a teacher. I thought his failure disqualified his opinions. Maybe I expected successful entrepreneurs to teach unappreciative, hormonal 14-year-olds for dozens of dollars an hour.

 

Most of our parents had one career. For them, school worked. But most of our kids will have 4-6 “careers” over their working life. They need different abilities than our parents did, and a more generalized education than we have.

 

Our kids will need the ability to learn really quickly; to make connections; and to forge new paths. Unfortunately, school still teaches the opposite of these skills.

 

To be successful ten years from now, students will probably need to understand technology that we don’t currently fathom. But they’ll also need some skills that we CAN teach now, like:

Public speaking

Confidence

Leadership

Physical self-care

Mental plasticity; and

Resilience.

 

If schools can’t teach entrepreneurship, they CAN teach these skills. And parents can supplement them by encouraging entrepreneurship. Read: “Why Your Kid Should Open A Business” here.