Education Through Entrepreneurial Spirit, along with its levers of awareness, experimentation, acknowledgement and self-affirmation, is an excellent pedagogical approach that has a significant impact on student development by contributing to entrepreneurial culture, student perseverance and educational success, personal satisfaction and fulfillment, and career choice. Teaching practices observed over the past 20 years have made it possible to identify 4 intervention levers, along with their specific impacts which, when combined, extend their reach.
Offer awareness activities so that students can experience the human adventure of being an entrepreneur. Awareness contributes to the students’ entrepreneurial culture and translates into a greater tolerance for risk, openness to new things, awareness of the importance of buying locally, understanding of the complexity of the manufacture of goods, appreciation of human power in all forms of entrepreneurship, and words of encouragement to the project initiators around them.
Entrepreneurial experimentation means being at the heart of all actions and decisions. It is a process in which learning goes hand in hand with effort and fun. Entrepreneurial experimentation is a powerful tool for success. In addition to placing learning in context (what it’s for), experimentation helps to build identity (discover who I am), develop a feeling of competence (what I’m good at), provide career guidance (what I like to do) and create a sense of belonging (“my” class, school, community).
Education professionals who use entrepreneurial pedagogy affirm revitalizing their teaching practices, enjoying teaching more, and observing a decrease in behavioural problems and the time spent on class management. Over 6000 of these professionals adopt this approach every year.
Acknowledgement activities highlight the initiatives that were carried out. Acknowledgement helps students to increase their levels of satisfaction, confidence and self-esteem by having their accomplishments recognized by others (family, peers, community). In addition to contributing to a vibrant school environment and inspiring other students to try their hand at entrepreneurship, third-party acknowledgement strengthens the relevance of the students’ efforts and enables them to become aware of their own path.
The affirmation of entrepreneurial identity is a powerful source of both personal and institutional pride.
By developing collaborative reflexes, increased agility, and the ability to innovate and become involved in order to be part of the solution, Education Through Entrepreneurial Spirit equips students to better handle today’s realities. For some, this will be an opportunity to discover their entrepreneurial identity (“Entrepreneurship, I’m Up for the Challenge!”), or to confirm their career aspirations based on a field of interest (“I want to run my own farming business”). Fostering these opportunities for self-affirmation helps people to recognize each other and take pride in themselves.
Entrepreneurial culture can be described as a way, shared by a group, to discover, encourage or contribute to individual and group initiatives that change the world around us. Among other things, it translates into greater acceptance of risk, awareness of the importance of buying locally, encouragement given to project initiators, and openness to innovation and all things new. Strong entrepreneurial culture provides fertile ground that stimulates community pride and involvement, regional vitality, different forms of collaboration and the influence of groups that are under-represented in positions of power, such as women, young people and immigrants. This culture is developed in young people when they see it in our families, our behaviour, when meeting an entrepreneur, when visiting a business, etc.
By carrying out a project alongside education professionals in which they are at the heart of the action, students change their world. Entrepreneurial experimentation is a powerful tool for motivation and success that helps students by placing learning in context (what is it for), building their identity (who am I), developing a feeling of competence (what I’m good at), providing career guidance (what I like to do) and creating a sense of belonging.
Entrepreneurial experimentation acts directly upon several principles that foster student perseverance (Reducing the Dropout Rate at the End of Secondary School, Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport, 2013):
“The students are so interested that they surpass expectations. Their focus on and motivation for the work increases exponentially, despite the magnitude of the task. I have also noticed that some students have reached their potential and gained self-confidence thanks to their peers and the tasks they choose.”–Secondary school teacher
“Things could not go on as they were. I had to find a new way of teaching that would capture my students’ interest, motivate them and help them to learn in their own way. Entrepreneurship proved to be a revelation for my classroom.”–Special needs teacher
“Every time I carry out a project with my students, a collective action takes place around us, originating from both school and community stakeholders.”–Elementary school teacher
“The students are definitely motivated by this type of project. We start with their ideas, set everything in motion and they are commended. And the parents get just as involved, which creates some fabulous school memories.”–Secondary school teacher
Acknowledging the accomplishments of young people who put themselves at the heart of the action allows them to be fully conscious of their experience and journey. Through acknowledgement from their teacher, peers, family and community, the students’ own perception of themselves is reinforced, at a time when their identity is undergoing a rapid change. This phenomenon can be particularly significant for students who progress further through action taken than through formal learning, those who have difficulty placing learning in context, those with high development potential and those with self-esteem issues.
“When schools encourage a broad range of experiences and projects that challenge and involve students, they give students the tools to find a path that corresponds to their aspirations, interests and aptitudes. . . These challenges provide opportunities for students to discover their strengths, to strive to surpass themselves and to become aware of the career and entrepreneurial possibilities available to them.” (Québec Education Program, Cycle 2)