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The Promise of Entrepreneurial Education

With school-choice initiatives proliferating, students struggling to make up for lost Covid time, and Americans pessimistic about the direction of the country, K–12 education is ripe for reform. But a national recommitment to educational basics should extend beyond the fundamentals of reading, writing, and STEM subjects. A key aim of school reformers should be to pursue what I call “entrepreneurial education”—helping students see themselves not as passive recipients of information but as creators, with the agency to shape the world around them. More than the acquisition of facts or the practice of solipsistic self-expression, such creativity is vital to individual and social flourishing.

Today’s students are hungry for this kind of educational experience. Eighty-six percent of young Americans say that they want to experiment with being a social-media influencer. Some invest more time in learning content creation than in the content of the classroom. But before labeling the trend toward social-media entrepreneurship superficial, consider why it has such a hold on young imaginations: it represents an opportunity to exercise creativity and make something that others want to connect with. Young people, this suggests, have entrepreneurial spirits that need to be exercised; our current education model gives them few opportunities to do so.

The word “entrepreneurship” usually denotes business ownership. But construed more broadly, it describes the contributory creativity that is less a commercial mind-set than a national identity. Scout troops, book clubs, and local churches—to say nothing of the enterprising spirit needed in a marriage and building a household—are every bit as entrepreneurial as businesses startups. This is the kind of entrepreneurship that helps people see problems as opportunities, exercise their gifts and talents in service of others, and gain rewards for doing so.

But this mind-set does not usually come naturally. It must be taught. And the nation faces a particular challenge today in forming entrepreneurs: the fragmentation of our society into discrete groups that don’t talk, or work, with one another.

Read more here.

Originally published Autumn 2023 at City Journal.


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