Our current education system is suppressing entrepreneurship

5 Jan 2014

 

* January Article of the Month *

 

The current UK education system is often praised for its ability to compare the intelligence of its pupils between school league tables. However, it could be argued that the system fails to recognise and therefore promote the intellectual intelligence of a creative person. 

High requirements for good exam results coupled with pressure on teachers to produce “straight-A students” has forsaken the educational raison d’être. It would seem the only way to succeed in life is to go to school, college, university and then straight into a stable job for forty years. This simply isn’t true. Where is the place for entrepreneurship? 

 

Schools are constantly being told “GCSE’s are too easy,” and thus they are pushed harder to obtain better exam results, but I believe there is far too much focus on qualifications, as opposed to the personal development of the individual and their passions. The ideology that this exam system creates within students and teachers alike is that grades are the outcome of years in education. They are not.

The GSCE and A Level courses taken by this generation, the former and the future, have and will continue to drill out the confidence of students to risk being wrong. Long gone are the days when students would ask endless questions until their curious minds were fulfilled. “What happened to why?” Curiosity is damaging to the grade, and no qualifications means no career.

Well here’s my view; standardised tests are good for bureaucrats, not for students.

Enterprise begins with innovation and originality, but it would seem that creative pupils are forced to conform to an education system that doesn’t benefit them in the slightest. If they think outside of the box, the rigid mark scheme ignores their answer – It is wrong. Quirky connections between subjects become “too confusing” and could cause a “misunderstanding”. This has created a system where in fact today flair within academics does not exist anymore. Instead, we, as students, are told what to write and how to write it in order to pass, and anything otherwise is a fail. We are taught to see the world as correct or incorrect, as a binary, as a robot.

So of course we should appreciate the arts, such as music, art, design and technology, dance and drama which encourage self-expression, but let’s also remember we were not that far away from scrapping them completely with Gove’s EBacc. The outrage caused says to me that we should realise that there is still a problem.

I can already hear the critics. “Creativity is largely useless absent a solid base of facts and skills.”

Well, what is needed in the real world? Originality, tenacity, ability and curiosity. Learning facts is an integral part of education, but learning facts does not have to be rote learning. Instead, these facts should be used as a foundation; a tool to encourage creativity, not to suppress it. Imagination is based on passion and this, in turn, creates a motivated economy; where students are optimistic about their future, and where people are prepared to take a risk. To start up a business in the field they love.

What we need is entrepreneurs and fresh thinkers. We need a generation of young people who can all look at a single problem, and produce unique solutions. It is common knowledge that SMEs carry the burden of our economy. They are vital for both economic growth and job creation, in fact they are 99.9% of all private sector firms. But for enterprise to be encouraged, daring ideas must be encouraged, and this needs to begin at school when children can still be dyed any colour. 

And although we seem to have to deal with the effects, youth unemployment for example, it seems no one has tried to analyse the larger-scale problem. No one has looked at the bigger picture. In times like this, in a slowly recovering economy, where are the risk takers, the leaders, the entrepreneurs? We have seen large firms and SMEs of the past fall together, but where are the firms of the future

Why do so many students assume the only way to get a job is by working for the man?  Today we have a group of youngsters who are subservient to the corporate world and in no way revolutionary. Just average.

Yet no one asks why – could it not be the educational system itself that is to blame?

Our education system is flawed. Reform is needed now more than ever. For our economy to flourish we need to encourage enterprise. For creativity to flourish, schools must be able to innovate without the constant fear of being penalised. That is where we start, because a one-size-fits-all education system is not the solution, and is most certainly not the future I want to see in my Great Britain.

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