One Size Does Not Fit All
Having just started our second week of teaching I was still dubious as to whether a classroom based learning approach was really the best way of nurturing entrepreneurship in a country where less than 50% of the population enrol into secondary education. Can entrepreneurship really be learned in a classroom when some our most successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, dropped out of school with a record of poor academic performance? Academic students need not be the most confident or loudest to be the most successful in the classroom environment. However in an environment where an individual is attempting to secure a loan surely a fluid pitch by someone who easily builds great rapport with people will be more convincing than the student hiding behind their textbook?
Continuing with teaching this week, I realised that my approach to lessons and also group members can become easily biased to the more vocal members. While aiming to teach the group as a whole, it’s hard not to be more inclined to the most confident who are more convincing in their ideas and business. Going into the field however reinforced the main purpose of our teaching and highlighted where changes in lesson planning and teaching methods needed to take place. Classes are intended to form a foundation from which to build upon, taking into account individual needs. Applying lessons to real life business situations by going out and seeing our group at their places of work demonstrated exactly why a mix of practical work as well as theory was needed.
A very quiet member of my group who was more than willing to let his classmates speak for or over him, burst into song when I jumped onto the back of his motorbike taxi. It seems that in his own element and environment he is brought to life and his hesitation in class was more than compensated for by the lively customer service he greets his customers with. Yet to expand further, an academic approach was required to open his eyes to the possibility of new opportunities. An entrepreneur is not necessarily the most successful businessman out there but simply someone who addresses a problem and creates a business solution. We are not here with unrealistic goals of creating multi million dollar corporations but if we can leave each member of our group with a new perspective on their business, that without our teaching they may not have ever thought of, then that for me will be a success.
Our syllabus teaches that a great business idea does not need to be brand new but could merely address an existing problem. Similarly our classes are not meant to be a rigid teaching syllabus to create a completely new way of thinking. Flexibility is key and just as we teach that addressing customers’ needs are paramount, we must adapt around the personalities, skills gaps and commercial needs of our groups.
Written By Sarina Patel, 2013 Fellow