3 Ways to Introduce Entrepreneurial Dare in the Classroom
Updated: Mar 27
"Whatever our stations in life, we need to be enterprising, innovative, and able to make things happen."
— Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung
One of the most frustrating things at work is when upper management gives a direction, but you’re not really sure what is meant and you don’t have a clear idea of how to achieve it.
At the Economic Society of Singapore Dinner 2018, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, said, “Second, there must be an enterprising spirit, or “entrepreneurial dare” (as Minister Ng Chee Meng puts it)...Whatever our stations in life, we need to be enterprising, innovative, and able to make things happen.”
As a person invested in the future of our youth and in the education space, I absolutely agree. And of course it is good that this is cascaded to schools for implementation. But how do I get this going in the classroom? Translating a concept into reality, on top of daily challenges as an educator (read: admin), is difficult.
Having championed entrepreneurial development through EntreEd workshops for the past 8 years, Reactor School has experimented with many ways to bring out entrepreneurial dare in our students. We have synthesised 3 ways you can cultivate entrepreneurial dare in the classroom.
1. Frame Each Class as a Safe Space for Experimentation
(and make sure it is so)
Students, especially in Asia, view the classroom as space of judgement from both peers and teachers. Therefore, they fear offering opinions and answers, or showing interest in what is viewed as “non-essential”, “bad”, or even “altruistic” e.g. video games, starting a social enterprise. This starting point already defeats the idea of pushing boundaries and pursuit of interests within the classroom.
So the first step is to remove judgement.
At the start of class, say the following words (or some variation), “Before we begin, I want you to know that this class is a safe space for you to experiment and tie in your interests with your work.”
As the class progresses, never deny or reject your students’ ideas outright. Say instead, “That’s interesting” and challenge them to prove their point through action and allow them to learn from experience. For example, if a student wants to pursue her interest in coding in a History class, allow her the opportunity to and challenge her to create a history project around the development of coding over the years.
Curtail any negativity and rejection from your students to their peers. Encourage them to be open and to challenge through questioning and evidence.
The above shows students that it is okay to pursue their creative ideas, that it is okay to fail in the eyes of legitimate authority in the room i.e. the teacher, as well as the social authority i.e. their peers. This gives students the room to express and develop their interests while picking up the subject-specific knowledge you want them to learn.
2. Design Classwork as Projects and Implement Activities that Challenge Assumptions
It is difficult for students to push boundaries, to want to innovate and pursue interests, if classes are not set up that way. Unfortunately, the majority of classes are designed rigidly.
Hence, the lesson in itself needs to be designed such that students are allowed to define their own boundaries (with guidance) around their interests and be given the opportunity to innovate.
Know what your learning outcomes are.
Design activities that challenge their assumptions, around the learning outcomes.
For example, to teach students about empathy for those who have physical disabilities, we simulate various scenarios where students have their vision or movement impaired and have them carry out various tasks.
Then, challenge them to teach their learning to their peers, in their own way.
We have found that activities that challenge their assumptions create “Ah-ha moments”, which they invariably remember much later. The peer teaching cements their understanding and is a mini-enterprise on its own. Both of these activities push students beyond their usual boundaries and forces them to be creative and resourceful.
3. Challenge your Students to Think Critically
One of the best ways to develop entrepreneurial dare is to challenge the students in a way an entrepreneur would be challenged by customers and investors. It is one of the best ways we learn about the rigour of our ideas. This does not mean to judge them or their ideas (see 1.); it means to provide a counterbalancing view if you have one in order to push students to think critically.
When a decision about an idea or project has been made, play the devil’s advocate.
Have a deep conversation on the logic behind the thought process, and also for the data that backs their decision.
If the student is unable to back up their thought process, then that is the moment to get them to perform their research and data validation. Ignite their competitive spirit and need to prove themselves right, and they will learn resourcefulness and have the courage to range out of their comfort zones to get the data they need.
Through our workshops, we have learnt that this is one of the things our students are most appreciative of, as it pushed their mental boundaries and strengthened their resilience. They felt refreshed! This teaches the students to take ownership of their creativity and innovativeness.
How will you embody entrepreneurial dare?
Entrepreneurial dare is a vast concept; these three suggestions barely scratch the surface in how it may be introduced to our students. We challenge you, as a teacher, in one aspect of entrepreneurial dare: taking action quickly. After reading our article, what is one immediate action you will take right now to introduce entrepreneurial dare to your classroom?
Written by Lim Weiyuan.
Weiyuan is a Co-Founder of Reactor School and Head of Reactor School.
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