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North East Yorkshire

Is our education system robbing budding entrepreneurs?

14 Jun 2019

Is our education system robbing budding entrepreneurs?

Grades, pieces of paper, degrees, experience - it all counts, we would be lying to ourselves if we didn’t think it did. 

However, despite these things being of importance it could be said the national curriculum is only teaching us and our children what we need to know to pass our exams and get into university. When I studied GCSE French I was taught how to talk about poverty and the environment, both important topics. I was not taught how to ask for petrol.

The education system, like most systems, is a process: structured. Whilst our society has a very heavy focus on what grades you need to get you where you want to be, everyone is different. Someone who gets the straight As at GCSE is automatically perceived as being intelligent; maybe they’re just talented at regurgitating information from memory and brain training, who really knows? 

Intelligence is not just about grades. Intelligence is creativity, emotional intelligence, grit, stability etc. Everyone is intelligent in their own way whether they succeed or fail. It is how each of us deal with those scenarios that make us who we are.  

Educational institutions are essentially preparing students for the future, but really are they just forcing students to obey commands that expunge all creativity? And is this actually robbing students of their ability to pursue a successful future?

The point I'm making is, the person who obtains the average C or below, sat at the back of the class or the one in trouble regularly for not following instructions will probably be the person who will be a millionaire before they are 30. But what we must ask is, does the national curriculum support these pupils? Probably not. Entrepreneurial skills, public speaking, setting up your first business and pitching for a bank loan do not appear at any stage. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risk in the hope of profit’ and that could not be truer. Risk is the key word here. Without risk and being out of one’s comfort zone, one cannot succeed. 

The education system is safe and not a risk so maybe the very thought of risk taking or not knowing the exact answer from a mark scheme is alien?

To an extent, society teaches us that failing is wrong. Failing is not the social norm. But don’t we need to at least experience some form of failure to bounce back and prove ourselves to ourselves? 

Take James Dyson for example, he failed 5,126 times over 15 years and used all his savings before developing a successful prototype for what we now know as the Dyson vacuum. Yet, he made it!

When you get a bad grade or mark in life, you either care enough to put more effort in for the next paper or you don’t and you ‘fail’ by social norm or simply do what you need to do to get a pass. 

In the world of business, the consequence of failing is much higher and being average won’t get you very far. That is what sets aside the grade getters from the entrepreneurs. 

The mixture of a good grade getter and entrepreneurial skills is rare, but most entrepreneurs do possess one of these things together with grit and enthusiasm. Maybe our education system should also focus on developing these skills instead of trying to contain them to rules or regulation or naming the future entrepreneur the ‘naughty kid’ at the back or average on the register.

Many successful entrepreneurs failed in starting their first business. It’s these major setbacks that pushed them harder to succeed – and without any loss of enthusiasm. The main lesson from each failure is that they learned from it.

The education system doesn’t teach us grit or perseverance. It doesn’t teach us how to network or talk to people. One person with enthusiasm and an amazing idea could have the ability to make a change, but they didn’t get that A. Is it over?

The truth is that our education system won’t be changing anytime soon, but everyone has a choice to work around the system and the ability to work with the change. Those with an idea or an entrepreneurial injection deserve to have support from an advisory, just like those who have the assistance of a careers advisor. 

The IoD has the expertise and connections to assist new startups and entrepreneurs with making their ideas flourish into reality. I would highly recommend to attend some of their upcoming local events in Yorkshire.

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Georgina Freeman, IoD Student Ambassador

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IoD Yorkshire & North East
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