In teaching entrepreneurship, there are many critical questions:
1. Can entrepreneurship be taught?
2. Should we be teaching skill set, mindset, or both?
3. What is an effective pedagogical approach? Case study, simulation, experiential, textbook, business model, business plan . . . and the list goes on.
4. How realistic should an entrepreneurship course be?
This last one is what I struggle most with. My students raise their hand and say they want to be entrepreneurs. I owe it to them to help them develop the mindset that requires. I also owe it to them to let them understand what being an entrepreneur feels like. This last one gets down to structure. I stuck at structure, but I’m learning (slowly!)
I have very little, if any, structure in my class. The students drive the bus – each one actually drives his/her own bus. I am there as a guide, as a resource. This semester it is starting to sink in that maybe I could find a little more balance between my unstructured approach and a more structured approach. This is a direct result of putting myself in their shoes; I’ve learned a ton about what their experience feels like, and where the gaps are that I was previously unaware of. Students always want more structure, but I often tend to dismiss that because part of that desire is ingrained in them from an ineffective K-12 educational experience where they have been spoon fed. I won’t do that. But I can offer more structure. Here are my thoughts for future semesters:
My class meets twice per week. I’m thinking what I’ll do is go back to a flipped classroom sort of approach. I will create videos introducing students to concepts and strategies and tools and such. They watch those prior to the first class of the week. During the first class of the week, they report out on what they’ve accomplished, what they’re struggling with, and I walk them through some application of what was in the video. The second class of the week is playtime. We do exercises and role playing and other sorts of things to get them practicing the skills in an experiential way.
I’m sure I’ll change this 100 times before next semester actually rolls around. I’d be interested in your thoughts about how to make the course experience as realistic as possible but still include a little bit of structure. But not too much!!