Opportunities to wonder, wander and explore …

Ms Maggi Gunn, Dean of Co-curriculum

A significant challenge for education is that students are being educated for a future that will involve technologies that do not yet exist, careers that are as yet unknown and a multitude of developing global issues. In a world that is characterised by increasing productivity, longer life expectancy, redistribution of jobs due to technological advancements and high youth unemployment, entrepreneurial traits, skills and abilities will prove valuable assets. Additionally, entrepreneurship is not only considered as a benefit for an individual  but  increasingly being recognised, examined and valued at organisational, inter-organisational, national and global levels (Luke, Verreynne and Kearins, 2007). According to the World Economic Forum (2012), ‘entrepreneurship has never been as important as it is today when the world is confronted with big challenges that extend well beyond the global economy. Entrepreneurship is a tremendous force that can have a big impact in growth, employment generation and social empowerment’.

The term ‘entrepreneur’ originates from the French verb, entreprendre, meaning ‘to do something’ or ‘to undertake’. The development of this notion of action is consistent with definitions that encompass discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunity (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000), a process requiring creativity, innovation and growth (World Economic Forum, 2009) and the necessity to bring about change that is beneficial (Kent, 1990). A Google search of ‘traits of entrepreneurs’ yields over three and a half million hits, with the many articles specifying between four and twenty-five ‘essential’ traits of the successful entrepreneur. Unsurprisingly, a perusal of numerous articles identifies a core of similar characteristics, mindsets and skills — passion, persistence, vision, flexibility, self-belief, confidence, motivation, drive, willingness to take risks and an ability to rebound from failure. Presumably these entrepreneurial traits contribute to the ability to transform an idea into sustained action for change and benefit. According to the World Economic Forum (2009), entrepreneurship is ‘a key competence for all, helping young people be more creative and self-confident in whatever they undertake’.

In his book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, Zhou (2012) identifies that the most desirable education ‘is one that enhances human curiosity and creativity, encourages risk taking, and cultivates the entrepreneurial spirit in the context of globalisation’. Given the value of entrepreneurship at individual, organisational and global levels, entrepreneurship education, in the form of courses and programmes, is being developed, implemented and assessed world-wide (World Economic Forum, 2012). However, research has not yet definitively demonstrated the benefit of entrepreneurial education in this structured form (Pena, Transue and Riggieri, 2010). Indisputably, the experiences we have and the opportunities we pursue play a significant role in how we develop and what we become, and thus it could be expected that experiences, opportunities and learning beyond a structured learning environment would contribute to the development of an entrepreneurial mindset. With the Aspen Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group (2008) identifying ‘a critical mix of success-oriented attitudes of initiative, intelligent risk-taking, collaboration, and opportunity recognition’ as necessary for the development of an entrepreneurial mindset, the co-curricular opportunities at Brisbane Girls Grammar School offer substantial and diverse ways in which to develop and grow entrepreneurial traits.

Not everyone develops the same interests and exhibits the same talents. Encouraging students to identify and explore their passions and enhance and expand their skills is important. Encourage your daughter to participate in co-curricular activities of appeal — learn a musical instrument, perform in an orchestra, sing in a choir, compete in a sport, participate in a lifestyle activity, express her creativity in the drama club, explore expression through Grammar Dance, learn calligraphy, attend an art walk or work collaboratively in a debating team. The inevitable wins and losses of participating in a sport or debating allow students to experience failure and develop resilience and tenacity. Supporting students in their interests and passions has been shown to develop competent, responsible, passionate, productive and happy citizens (Posner, 2009). Improvement and mastery come from thoughtful and regular engagement. While regular attendance at sport training, drama rehearsal or music practice can be achieved through parental organisation, true engagement requires intrinsic motivation. Encourage in your daughter the commitment, dedication, independence and autonomy that will allow her to pursue her strengths and talents and achieve her potential in her chosen endeavors.

Entrepreneurial skills can be developed through product-oriented or service activities. Employing the perspective of creator, developer or provider rather than recipient or consumer of learning or knowledge promotes entrepreneurial behavior (Zhou, 2012). Students can assist with the production of the School Magazine, be involved in the Digital Photography Club, participate in the Composers’ Club or join the Robotics Club. Service endeavours such as the Ecumenical Coffee Brigade, Interact, Second Chance, Time for a Change and the Uralla Club develop skills of communicating, facilitating, managing, organising and collaborating, promote an understanding and empathy for others and provide an experience of sustained and meaningful commitment. Awareness of and empathy for others can improve the ability to frame problems as opportunities and challenge the status quo.

Developing a global perspective requires engaging with people from other places and looking beyond what is comfortable and familiar to develop a cultural understanding. New ideas, perspectives and understandings arise through participation in a language tour to one of our five International Affiliate Schools, undertaking astronaut or fighter pilot training on the biennial US Space Trip, participating in the Antipodeans Abroad Programme, studying abroad through the Northern Hemisphere Summer Schools Programme or even hosting a student from one of our International Affiliate Schools. Whether through visiting another country or hosting a student from another region, determining mutual interests, respecting diversity and developing the ability to communicate despite language and cultural differences are highly beneficial in developing a global conscience.

Although co-curricular activities and opportunities constitute a valuable component of a quality education in the preparation for a productive and balanced life beyond school, it is essential that these activities are also recognised as enjoyable and worthwhile experiences in themselves. Encourage your daughter to use co-curricular opportunities to wonder, wander and explore her interests and passions, and to develop tenacity, grit, flexibility, confidence and an ability to rebound from failure. The traits, skills and abilities she develops will enhance her involvement and contribution to a world of globalised relationships, innovative social technologies and accelerating change.

References

Aspen Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group. (2008). Youth entrepreneurship education in America: A policy maker’s action guide. Washington DC: The Aspen Institute.

Kent, C.A. (Ed.). (1990). Entrepreneurship education: Current developments future directions. New York, NY: Quorum Books.

Luke, B., Verreynne, M. & Kearins, K. (2007). Measuring the benefits of entrepreneurship at different levels of analysis. Journal of Management and Organization, 13 (4), 312-330.

Pena, V., Transue, M., & Riggieri, A. (2010). A survey of entrepreneurship education initiatives. Washington, DC: Institute for Defense Analyses, Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Posner, R. (2009). Lives of passion, school of hope. Boulder, CO: Sentient Publications.

Shane, S. & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review. 25(1), 217-226.

World Economic Forum. (2009). Educating the next wave of entrepreneurs: Unlocking entrepreneur capabilities to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum. (2012). Global entrepreneurship. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-entrepreneurship

Zhou, Y. (2012). World class learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press & National Association of Elementary School Principals.

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