School Values and Entrepreneurial Skills

School Values and Entrepreneurial Skills

What an unusual headline! How might our school values connect to the development of entrepreneurial and innovative attitudes and skills?

The connection is actually strong, though not necessarily obvious. We, along with many other schools enunciate a set, usually a handful of school values. Indeed, it is not uncommon for many businesses to also publish a set of values.

Publishing a handful of values is one thing, having them acted out day by day by those who live, work or learn in that community is a much more complex step. The lived values of our school align well with the published values. That said, the situation is never perfect and it will always be an ongoing journey as students grow, develop and move through the school and new staff are inducted.

It is the lived values, the attitudes, behaviours and dispositions seen each day in the relationships and interactions that will allow entrepreneurial and innovative skills and attitudes of students and staff to thrive or wither and die.

There are two clear sets of skills and attitudes required to be entrepreneurial and innovative. There are the business/technical skills and the personal skills, attitudes, values and dispositions.

The business/technical areas require skills and knowledge in many areas. For example:
• Sales
• Marketing
• Management
• Planning
• Communications
• Design thinking

The personal skills, attitudes, values and dispositions most important for an entrepreneurial and innovative approach include the following (in order of the words most used in a literature scan):
• Persistence & hard work
• Resilience
• Confidence/courage
• Creativity & innovation
• Passion
• Initiative & self-reliance
• Risk tolerance

The adaptive skills of confidence, persistence, collaborative teamwork, sensible risk taking, and especially resilience are critically important to develop and deepen over time, not only in the context of developing entrepreneurial and innovative skills but more importantly in the development of strong, adaptable human beings.

The culture of the whole school sets the scene of this development. I have just returned from a trip overseas, visiting schools and meeting parents and prospective parents. In those schools visited, I could see how the prevailing school culture influenced the style of learning going on. The well-behaved and compliant students were avid learners, positively consuming of the knowledge of their teachers. There were excellent students in learning that knowledge, but I saw and heard little that could support the development of entrepreneurial and innovative thinking and skill development, other than as theoretical knowledge, learned from the teacher and text book.

On the other hand, our set of school values that include recognition of and support for achievement, a personal best and especially resilience which infers persistence and the courage to ‘have a go’, along with the responsibility for the outcomes is the foundation from which we will successfully develop an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, along with a knowledge base that will thrive in a practical sense.

In the coming school break, Michelle Mitchell, Head of Humanities and I will visit St Paul’s School in Brisbane, which is also establishing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit amongst the students.

This visit to Brisbane will support and inform our very first entrepreneurial elective which will commence next semester. With this visit, Ms Mitchell’s knowledge and understanding, and our strong and supportive values base, this elective has a strong foundation from which to flourish. It will complement the STEAM and co-curricular initiatives of robotics and coding developing in the Junior School and the robotics elective established in our offering to older students.

Developing entrepreneurial and innovative skills and attitudes will not work in an overall school culture that does not encourage students to take safe risks, to be confident, persuasive and articulate, to show initiative, be creative and follow their passions, no matter how well they are taught!