Entrepreneurial thinking is at the heart of everything we do at VentureSchool. Entrepreneurial thinkers, according to our definition, are individuals who bridge the gap between the way things are and the way people want them to be. Ultimately, entrepreneurs add value.
With this definition in mind, everyone has the potential to apply entrepreneurial thinking to create value for themselves and for others. It boils down to having the right knowledge, tools, and skills to add specific kinds of value in a variety of contexts. Therefore, when we teach entrepreneurship, we emphasize developing skills as opposed to strictly starting businesses. Entrepreneurship means looking at the world in a different way. We challenge our students to unleash their entrepreneurial potential, step outside of their comfort zone, and challenge themselves to see problems as possibilities and obstacles as opportunities.
According to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial mindset provides young people with lasting advantages that can be applied to their academic success, career prospects, as well as their capacity to initiate something on their own.
Entrepreneurial mindset boosts educational attainment and performance. A 2012 report by the National Research Council suggests that entrepreneurial skills such as problem-solving and collaboration are important for academic success. Entrepreneurship education has also been found to “improve academic performance, school attendance, and educational attainment,” according to the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Corporation.
Entrepreneurial mindset is valued by employers. Entrepreneurial skills are employment skills. In today’s innovation-based (and oftentimes uncertain) economy, it is imperative that students have the ability to continually identify opportunities to generate value no matter where they go. A survey of over 400 employers found that the most prized skills in today’s workforce were not in the areas of technical knowledge, but rather communication, collaboration, initiative, and problem-solving. Ninety percent of the surveyed employers identified these skills as “very important.”
Entrepreneurial mindset is crucial for creating new opportunities. Early orientation toward achievement, innovation, and building strong social skills have been found to be predictive of the successful start and management of a business. Furthermore, nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs is essential for economic growth and strength.
Redefining Student Success
Our definition of success boils down to to ten essential qualities that we hope to develop in our students through each of our educational opportunities. Each quality is rooted in managing the relationships that exist between the student and her/himself, knowledge/ideas, and others.
Initiative: Students manage and direct their own best learning strategies and environments, adopt a mindset of persistence, cultivate curiosity, pursue interests, and continuously invent their future. Students believe that their individual effort matters and they are actively invested in taking control over their future success.
Reflective Thinking: Students are aware of their own development through metacognition, self-monitor their comprehension, and self-regulate their learning strategies to meet the demands of the task at hand.
Tenacity: Students will see and experience problems as opportunities to create solutions. They will have the willingness and capacity to change actions and plans to overcome present and future challenges.
Adaptability: Students will have the capacity to move forward with a decision once an opportunity is recognized despite inevitable uncertainty and challenges. They will have an optimistic disposition with a focus on obtaining the skills and knowledge required to lead a joyful, and fulfilled life in service of others.
Knowledge Acquisition: Students will master core academic skills necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, including: critical reading; effective writing; mathematical and statistical reasoning; and the ability to understand, create, apply, and communicate complex material fluently.
Knowledge Application: Students will be fluent in knowledge necessary to understand the world and society, prepare for adult life, enjoy and engage in creative endeavors, and participate in building and perpetuating thriving, democratic communities.
Innovative Thinking: Students will have the ability to think of ideas and novel solutions to problems without clearly-defined structures. They will have the capacity to apply higher-level, process-oriented thinking, consider an issue from a range of possible perspectives, and use that reasoning to make a decision.
Validation: Students feel recognized and valued as individuals, believe that they matter, and ultimately extend that belief to others.
Empathy & Generosity: Students will approach endeavors from the standpoint of mutual respect and understanding, understand and share the feelings of another, and place others’ needs before their own.
Communication & Collaboration: Students will hone a set of communication and collaboration skills in the service of co-creating solutions to challenges from a local to global level: self-awareness and social awareness of the power and potential of one’s self and others; relationship skills that leverage one’s own and others’ strengths and talents; and openness to inquiry to understand, respect, navigate, and celebrate diverse viewpoints and experiences.