Learning As An Entrepreneurial Activity

Are your children learners or learning entrepreneurs?

In her book Full On Learning: Involve me and I’ll understand, Zoe Elder talks about pupils being learning entrepreneurs. For her, this term involves wealth acquisition but not in the monetary sense.

The wealth of a learning entrepreneur is measured in terms of wisdom, curiosity and an infinite capacity to learn. She says this isn’t about status, kudos and influence but about self-confidence and being self-assured which comes from “successful creative learning achievements.”

Zoe Elder’s approach is to adopt a agricultural or organic model of learning where the teacher acts as a learning gardener devoted to growing plants and producing an exciting crop of learning entrepreneurs “who will emerge from their environment with the necessary hardiness and tenacity to go out into the wider world and inspire and excite others.”

You might be thinking that this sounds just too idealised and twee but to support her thinking Zoe gives us a picture of what this looks like by matching up the qualities of entrepreneurialism from the Virgin Pioneers report. Take a look at p267-268 to find out more.

In this report, Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones is asked what his definition of entrepreneurism is and he says it is about “managing and exploiting risk, it’s about being creative and innovative, its about challenging existing practices and existing ways of doing things.”

In essence, this is what being a learning entrepreneur is about for me: taking risk, being a creative thinker and being disruptive. When I say the latter, I don’t mean messing about and making life hell for the teacher but about doing things differently and always questioning things. These are children with a work ethic but are mavericks too.

I think we do have classes of learning entrepreneurs but not many of them. The pupils with disruptive influence (in a good way) are there but they skirt round the edges and are in the minority. They seem awkward and out of place because many of the lessons they are in tend to be based on a more industrial way of thinking.

To allow learning entrepreneurs to flourish then their teachers need to be learning entrepreneurs too, creative teachers that are unafraid to do things their way and take risks, push boundaries and be bold.

These ‘teacherpreneurs’ do things for all the right reasons and have imaginative flair. As Wolpert-Gawron (2015) says, “They have created a classroom culture of creativity and reflection. They think beyond the classroom in terms of how to make lessons meaningful, and in so doing, might see a need elsewhere in school that their innovation can address.”

Teacherpreneurs that can work part-time in class and work part-time beyond school developing their ideas can make the most impact on learning entrepreneurs. But they can also make an impact elsewhere and support it with teacher cred.

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