Should startups be taught as a new school subject?

Benjamina Tor
Should startups be taught as a new school subject?

How to teach the younger generation to work, make decisions, take responsibility? Perhaps the startup check will work

The idea of creating a new school subject came to me after I got acquainted with the course “Internet entrepreneurship“, developed by the FRI, in which students are actually taught how to make their startup.

It is quite logical to conduct such classes with students — after all, a lot of successful projects were born in the student’s environment at the time. The most obvious example is Facebook.

Recently, startups have become a kind of profession. Of course, this is not entrepreneurship in its pure form, because entrepreneurship implies the existence of some finished business model: You need a clear financial plan that allows you to understand whether our ideas will pay off; understand when and what resources are needed to implement them, and so on.

When creating a business, we plan our future well enough. A startup is a venture history: the task is not so much to build a profitable business as to demonstrate the exponential growth of a certain set of metrics. If the startup starts to pay for itself, it’s great. If not, it’s not scary.

What is the main idea of a startup? If we are doing a certain business, and all the money we spend to expand it, then this business grows like a startup. If at some point in this business “pour in” even more financial means and give it new opportunities for growth, then it will grow much faster.

Expandability and explosive growth are typical for a startup. In other words, a start-up is also a business with a number of features.

So why should I study startups at school?

The earlier a young man realizes that he has the opportunity to create and launch his project, the more likely that he will be able to successfully develop in this area. It’s one thing when a 25-year-old graduate recognizes the existence of startups, and another if the same happens to a 14-16-year-old student.

For such a young man, knowing the difficulties of this path, when many need to take risks, spend their time developing on the development of the project, do not sleep at night, and various success stories (Zuckerberg, Durov and many others), can become that necessary element, through which he will determine his own future.

Moreover, a lot of things that you need to tell about within the startup course will be relevant for any business. If you look at the experience of Generation S, one of the most popular online/offline accelerators, the experts tell about the market and its characteristics in the training process: how to determine the volume of the market, what is the business model, what are the typical business models, how and when to apply them, how to find your target audience, how to develop an MVP, how to identify with partners and resources, and much more.

Also read: Is education a hurdle or a boon for the startup ecosystem in Asia?

All this is important for any business, not just for startups. For example, the ability to do a financial analysis of a project is expensive. Therefore, when we talk about the introduction of such a subject in school (at least on an optional basis), we first of all talk about the ability to analyze and design various processes.

Positive experience is that pupils acquire many useful skills, including the skill of public speaking, the ability to work with information and visualize it, conducting interviews, the ability to build on the opinions of consumers. Children learn the culture of discussion, the ability to objectively evaluate their ideas, critical thinking. Moreover, it is really interesting to work on startups for schoolchildren because of the lack of routine and the opportunity to show creativity.

However, negative aspects are also enough

The modern educational system at school does not teach children to work. The school is doing well, but practically nobody works at home. When we talk about startups, we must understand that at first the project is based only on the individual and the work of the founders. Pupils are not ready for this. A startup can not be forced — it must come from within. What we observed in the schoolchildren speaks quite a different approach: they are used to us thinking for them, they will write a plan and tell what to do. So, unfortunately, it does not work.

Frederik Oru, the founder of the French startup accelerator NUMA, notes that it is necessary to teach our children that even if they do not create their company (after all, not all are born entrepreneurs), they need creative skills, they need interdisciplinary connections, they you need the ability to apply your knowledge in life. In teaching entrepreneurship there is really great pedagogical potential.

Of course, basic knowledge is needed about how the economy functions. A person who wants to run his own business must be able to count the numbers first. For the successful management of people need understanding of the features of communication, setting tasks, managing their own time. All these skills, of course, develop better in practice, but the success of young entrepreneurs will be much higher if in theory to give a basis in the upper grades.

Now we see that, even leaving the university, graduates do not have the skills to manage their own business: they have good the creative base, many have programming skills and scientific knowledge, but do not have the skills to manage people, the ability to motivate them, to unite around the idea.

This can be facilitated by teaching so-called soft skills: speaking skills, negotiating skills, developing leadership skills and team management. For example, you can create in the school project teams that work with the team on general assignments or implement simple projects of school or municipal scale.

Those who are aiming to become entrepreneurs and have the inclinations of entrepreneurship must become engaged in creating a startup. It is important to first explain the prospects of entrepreneurship — it’s hard work, sleepless nights, spent 5-7 years to start a new company before it becomes successful, instability and a certain risk.

After the students have an understanding and an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons, they must choose whether to go along the path of the beginning startup. You need to teach those who want to learn this — this is a voluntary direction.

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