Entrepreneurship is one of the four core elements of the REAL School design. We chose entrepreneurship because we believe that students should learn through experience and we believe that schools and students are capable of creating and managing ventures that support positive development of the school and community (that we believe they can bring revenue into the school is an enormous benefit that I will discuss in future posts).
David Bornstein (2007), writes about the characteristics of entrepreneurs in his book about social entrepreneurship and the social entrepreneurial finance and support organization Ashoka (if you aren’t familiar with Ashoka, I strongly encourage you to check them out. They do extremely interesting and compelling work). Bornstein describes the characteristics of entrepreneurs:
The most successful entrepreneurs were the ones most determined to achieve a long-term goal that was deeply meaningful to them. Accordingly, they tended to be more systematic in the way they searched for opportunities, anticipated obstacles, monitored results, and planned ahead. They were more concerned with quality and efficiency and more committed to the people they employed and engaged with in business or as partners. Finally, they valued long-term considerations over short-term gain.
Entrepreneurs are purposeful and systematic. Despite this, the developing the capacity for forethought and deliberate planning is profoundly under-appreciated in our school designs, yet these capacities are essential in truly successful leaders and organizations.
Jeffrey M. Stibel, Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp and the author of Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet, recently wrote about how “forethought” differentiates great leaders from the rest.
To have forethought, you need an abundance of details and you must labor over them. There is no right answer when thinking about the future, merely an endless number of scenarios. It is what the Stanford economist Thomas Sowell calls “long-range thinking.” Forward thinking is the brain’s way to chip away at the edges of uncertainty, to make bets based on past experience. The best of the best do this incessantly.
The REAL School model is intentionally focussed on entrepreneurship because we want students to learn creativity and design. We want students to be generative, proactive, confident, and competent (see previous post about my former student, now an entrepreneur). Most to the point, we want students to set long-term goals for themselves and to understand how to develop the tools and capacities to achieve these goals.