Roger Cowdrey - International Business Consultant. Writer & Motivational Speaker
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Entrepreneurship and Education - A better fit!

Last week I talked about the diverse academic subjects that seem to have entrepreneurship dumped on them and my belief that education needed a revolution rather than its failed evolution.

The more I deal with entrepreneurs and enjoy watching their successes, the more I realise that they have succeeded despite the education system and not because of it. Too many of them have had to risk the wrath of adults for not sacrificing the life they really want on the altar of qualifications.

We have failed to realise that the education system for the Industrial Revolution is not what is required in today's ever changing and faster moving innovative world. We are still training our young people in the old way while lauding those that achieve  great new businesses largely because they ignored the training that we force on our young people.

We have to recognise that, in today's world, it is impossible to predict what will be required in the way of occupations at the end of a student's formal education. Many of the jobs of today will disappear or be replaced by machines or artificial intelligence by the time they get their qualifications.

So what we need to do is to move from a subject based education system to one that is skilled based. We need people that can solve problems; that can adapt and transfer those skills to other areas as the world changes; that can explore alternative solutions when they enter uncharted territory and who are prepared to experiment and possibly fail sometimes without fearing they they are a failure.

Education needs to start by ensuring that they are teaching the skills and attitudes that will enable survival in an ever changing world. Teachers need to recognise that they themselves cannot predict the future ten years out and hence they verge on arrogance when they profess to teach the knowledge for this unknown future.

Clearly there is a place for knowledge, but not at the cost of a loss of the skills of problem solving, experimentation, lateral thinking and losing the fear of failure. We need the students to recognise that there isn't always a right answer and that there are many ways of finding an answer. Lets stop believing there is only one answer with one method just to make marking easier.

So I am an advocate of turning the education system on its head and defining the skills needed and the approach to be taken in every subject before layering on the knowledge content. 

We cannot predict if we need loads of geography qualified people in ten years time, but we certainly need a hell of a lot more entrepreneurs either as new businesses or in established businesses and other organisations. 

I always remember a comedian saying that they only had qualifications in art and geography, which no doubt pleased the respective teachers, but simply enabled him to draw maps!

Last week I talked about the weird and wonderful places that entrepreneurship gets put in education. However, on further reflection, this confusion simply reinforces my argument. No one is sure where to put it because it should be in all subjects. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we start to save our qualifications obsessed, failing education system.

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