UpSchool is all about teaching teachers the ‘how to’ of entrepreneurship education, but what happens when they head back to their schools and put their training to work with their own students? Engagement, excitement and a shift in mindset, according to staff and students at Mentone Grammar in Melbourne.
For Year 6 students at Mentone Grammar, the economics unit of their Humanities class centres around a market day. Students work in groups to come up with an idea and bring it to life, ultimately selling their product or business idea to real customers.
The unit requires students to learn through creative thinking, problem-solving and teamwork, and was the perfect place for Pip Madden and Justine Hamilton to teach the principles of entrepreneurship that they learnt at UpSchool.
‘When we were at UpSchool, we realised that what we were learning would really enhance the enterprise unit we teach here,’ Pip said.
Unlike many PD programs, UpSchool puts teachers back in a student’s shoes, and asks them to experience first-hand the methods and processes involved in building a sustainable business. UpSchool participants then reflect on their experiences as a teacher to gain actionable implementation strategies to take back to their own classroom.
‘We could see straight away how we could revamp and reimagine the unit a little bit and build some key entrepreneurial skills into it.’
Just as their teachers had done at UpSchool, Mentone Grammar students were asked to identify a customer and opportunity, and work in teams to develop a business idea to take to market. There were plenty of successful (and not so successful!) ideas, but for the students, the project proved to be about much more than meeting the requirements of the curriculum.
‘I learned a lot about the process of developing an idea, and how you have to consider all the things which are going to make it special,’ a student in Pip’s Year 6 class said.
‘It helped as well with thinking creatively about how to solve problems and learning to manage my time.’
For Justine, the engagement from students was palpable, as they were really able to grasp the end-to-end process of building a business.
‘I teach a cohort of boys and sometimes that can be really, really challenging,’ Justine said.
‘When we were working on our businesses though, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom – the self motivation and the independence they showed through the process…there’s nothing quite like it.’
‘It was a really powerful learning experience – the students almost lose the fact they’re in the classroom when they’re working like that.’
For Pip as well, teaching entrepreneurship goes far beyond what the students produce in the classroom.
‘It’s a way to get kids focused on key competencies, rather than just a grade or a product – it’s the actual activity of learning and developing a skill’
‘As educators we don’t know what sort of future we’re educating them for, so we need to teach them how to learn – it’s about shaping their mindsets and getting them to be agile thinkers.’
Deputy Principal Adrian Camm said the enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is rippling fast throughout the school community, and many teachers of other year levels are looking to build entrepreneurial teachings into their own classrooms.
‘We’ve built a lot of momentum over a short period of time – there’s this energy around it and it’s really snowballing, which is awesome,’ Adrian said.
‘People are excited about UpSchool because it’s a slightly different model of professional learning than they’re used to. They’re actually working in teams and going through that process themselves.’
And for the students who’ve gained an entrepreneurial mindset, the possibilities really are endless.
‘I always thought age was a barrier, but now I feel as though I can do anything.’
The next big idea could be sitting in your classroom – let UpSchool give you the tools to help your students bring it to life.
Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial education. We deliver programs to accelerate learning, creation and connection.