Teaching High School Students Entrepreneurship Drives Jobs and Economic Growth

Posted comments today on Washington Post article today “Trade Geometry Class for Entrepreneurship” http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-innovations/whats-the-big-idea-replace-high-school-geometry-with-entrepreneurship/2011/10/24/gIQAhYfSCM_story.html

We do need more entrepreneurs driving innovation, job creation and economic growth, and high school is a great place to start, but we also need engineers and scientists. Here are my posted comments:

Teaching High School Students Entrepreneurship Drives Jobs and Economic Growth

Promoting entrepreneurship among high school students is an excellent idea, but not at the expense of geometry and sciences- we need more engineers and scientists, not less.

Rather than a one time single course, what is needed and would work is a 2 to 4 course entrepreneurship program that provides students with an introduction to entrepreneurship, shows sample business models, provides background on the business planning process-what is it is, how it works, how to prepare a plan, and an overview of financials- how to do a forecast, develop a budget and forecasts. One entrepreneurship teaching technique I have used is to break up classes into teams of 5 students and during the semester each team creates a new venture business plan using tools and templates learned in the course. Typically you also review several case studies of real businesses (Mrs. Fields Cookies is a good one), and key concepts such as ethics, financing, legal and related issues covered as you work through the new venture development process.

These programs really create what I define as ‘entrepreneurial thinking’ which empowers students to be creative, to “think out of the room” as I define it, and help create our next generation of entrepreneurs and in-company entrepreneurs (or “Intrapreneurs”).

What I find most exciting is targeting these programs to address inner-city students to promote job creation and economic growth – a new Entrepreneurial Empowerment Program (“EEP”) I am involved with, integrating both government and private sector business resources, addresses this opportunity- I foresee real opportunity here to spur job creation and economic growth.

Keep in mind teaching entrepreneurship at the high school level is not a new concept. The University at Buffalo School of Management, Babson College, Lehigh University and many other institutions are all developing and exploring high school entrepreneurship programs.

What is needed is a more pro-active national, structured program with clearly defined objectives, standards, metrics, and courses – our high school students are a valuable, untapped resource to help us create our next generation of entrepreneurs who will help drive innovation, create jobs and spur economic growth.

 

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