Entrepreneurship demands that a person is willing to take risks, venture and achieve results. This implies amongst others that the person should be willing to dare to do and stake his or her future on something. Often, this required output behaviour is inhibited by the educational approach followed in the teaching and learning environments to which people are exposed.
The purpose of this article is to propose some educational principles that if adhered to, may promote and sustain entrepreneurial behaviour in a knowledge driven economy.
Principle 1: Introduce learning and teaching approaches that would stimulate the curiosity of students to discover essentials for themselves for the sake of discovery itself.
This demands that educators should rather try to play a minimum role in education rather than a maximum role. Rather, equipment and learning design should be carefully planned and structured to allow students to discover essential learning principles for themselves as well as the applications thereof. This should be done in the absence of specified learning outcomes specified by curriculums. Specified learning outcomes creates a situation in which it is assumed that the present expertise knows best what is required to succeed in the knowledge economy and while it may be partially true, the negative effects of installing inhibiting neuroses in the learner, may outweigh the advantages thereof. Instead, the educator should allow learners through education design to discover essential building blocks and fulcrums of the discipline through a process of self-discovery. Allowing learners the opportunity to discover for themselves, opens the door for discovering what you as learner wants to be and what you would like to understand and articulate. Through a process of self-directed discovery and determining one’s own discourse, the learner focuses on what he could be instead of becoming dissatisfied by not becoming what other successful people became. To become a fulfilled and entrepreneurial person, the learner needs to become what he valued and want to keep.
But, this can only be achieved if learning is not considered to be a mechanical process. Rather, it should be approach following an adventourous and autonomous approach. Marie Curie, Nobel Laureate, expressed it as follows: “I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician, he is also a child placed before natural phenomena, which impress him like a fairy tale. We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanism … Neither do I believe that the spirit of adventure runs any risk of disappearing in our world” (Goldsmith,2005).
Such an approach will develop cognitive reasoning abilities applicable to various situations, complexity levels and disciplinary foundations.
Too stimulate curiosity questions posed to learners questions should be asked as specific as possible. Vagueness runs the risk may contribute to the destruction of curiosity in the learner. By being specific in questioning and probing, the chances increase for concrete and specific discovery. In seeking answers, the student should experience as much as possible autonomy and the enjoyment of discovering essentials and truths as unaided as possible.
Principle 2: Continuous experimentation with learning and discoveries
Once new fundamentals were discovered, new theories proposed and opportunities recognized, it is important to learn and rediscover by continuing with the process of experimentation in order to validate self-discovery and to strengthen confidence in what was discovered. It is further essential that the learner learn more from “going” experiences and broadening the experience in more complex and real situations. Creating an intellectual climate in which experimentation could take place may foster the development of stable-minded individuals and the intellectual growth of learners.
Principle 3: Transfer of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries
As different academic disciplines, professional codes, and academic language act as boundaries that conflict with the need to integrate information a need exist to amalgamate knowledge and allowing educators to play “bridging roles” through articulation of common organising principles, values, reporting and control mechanisms This will enable educators in entrepreneurial education to link otherwise unconnected disciplines to facilitate the development of unique knowledge systems and increase access to special knowledge and opportunities. Due to the fact that not all learning can happens in a linear fashion or without structural constrains, it make sense to present a subject or two relating to science which may act as a catalyst to temper the minds of learners with regards to phenomena and its relationships with nature.
Principle 4: Educators needs to free themselves from inhibiting influences and also enter into a discovery learning mode.
This principle demands that all educators should exposed themselves to critical self-reflection, and if required obtain expert advice to elucidate on components in which improvements are required. The educator should also study as much as possible literature as possible, obtain exposure to as many technologies as possible, participate in discussion forums, debate observations and force him or herself to postulate ideas of his or her own as precisely and exactly as possible in cases where existing knowledge could not provide the answers or explain practical situations well enough. The latter component is considered a fundamental to build critical thinking and stimulate creative and innovative thinking.
In order to remain in control of the learning process it is essential that the responses of the learners are captured, assessed and that this information is used in debates with learners.
Principle 5: Learners need to see and observe more than their immediate environment
This principle is proposed in order to prevent mental “geographic retardation” driven by the constraints of localized knowledge systems and influences. Exposure to other environments will broaden the minds of learners in terms of discovering their own individual needs and aspirations and hunting for information from collective knowledge pools. To achieve this, the educator should rather fulfill the role of “Free Agent” to align opportunities with the discovered needs of the learners. It may be conducive to allow learners to identify places to visit, organize the events by themselves and do the costing for such events. By seeing and observing outside the immediate learning environment, the honeymoon effect of most training programmes, in which knowledge is fading away after a relative short period of time, can be largely eliminated. This approach will also teach them self-management skills, considered to be essential for any entrepreneurial venture. Further, learning and behavioural changes that occur due to visits to other environments may be considered as intentional changes based upon who the learner is and what the learner wants to be.
This article intended to provide a stimulus on what needs to be done to enhance learning appropriate for the knowledge economy of the 21st century as it relates to promoting entrepreneurial behaviour. The proposal is based upon 5 basic principles to which education should adhere in order to maximize self-directed discovery, identification of learning fundamentals and taking self-control over learning.