By: Helena Ivanac-Perutka
Entrepreneurship stands for the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities to create something new (new product, production process, service etc.) by mobilizing resources. The entrepreneurial mindset is actually quite important when it comes to the todays' society: entrepreneurs continuously shift the set paradigms by introducing newness to the consumer markets thereby constantly challenging the status quo. In this sense students who are taught the entrepreneurial ways can become more resilient and resourceful when it comes to future employment and personal growth. Even though entrepreneurship is highly desirable e.g., many employers ask for an entrepreneurial mindset in a job description, it is not widely taught in schools in any shape or form. From this fact, many challenges are present and will be discussed in the text below.
The challenges include:
· How to even start?
More than often the problem resides in not knowing where and to whom should the students turn to when it comes to learning something which is not a part of the conventional school program. Entrepreneurship, or the entrepreneurial mindset, is something that can be easily trained but only if the right tools for the right groups are used. Since most VET study programs don’t include such classes students don’t know how to start with their entrepreneurial journeys.
· What if there are no means?
Another problem resides in the fact that todays’ society teaches younger generations that financial means are the beginning and the end of any business venture discouraging them to even start with one of their own if they don’t have the financial background. Students have to be taught that means come in various shapes and forms: even though financial ones are important, the right knowledge and skills acquired by an individual will lead them to utilize their strengths no matter the situation, which is exactly the entrepreneurial way of conducting oneself.
· Who do we look up to?
At the beginning the venture is in the mind of the entrepreneur: the product, production process, service etc. is just an idea. The idea grows and manifests in real life only after a certain time period during which means are utilized and many lessons are learned by the entrepreneur. Those lessons learned are invaluable to students who are thinking of beginning their entrepreneurial path. However, there is no active connection between students and local entrepreneurs which would enable students to continuously learn in a real time question and answer sessions.
· How to change the status quo?
The current way the educational system is set up is not teaching VET students to think outside the box. Firstly, students more than often don’t know how to set their own goals in order to accomplish them swiftly by learning throughout the process. The entrepreneurial way encourages setting up SMART goals: goals which are Specific – What should be realized? Measurable – How can I measure my goal achievement? Achievable – Is the goal challenging, yet achievable for me? Realistic – Is the goal important for me? and Timebound-What are important deadlines? Secondly, the usual way of approaching life challenges, and which is greatly represented in schools is the causational way of thinking: e.g., we would start with a recipe to make a dish that we want, going to the store to buy additional produces rather than start with what we have in the fridge and changing the dish as we find new ingredients. In this way we are not bound to a specific goal but rather change our goal as we go along, not being limited by our resources but rather using resources as they come. In the same way VET students should be taught to start their business journeys by asking themselves who they are, what skills do they own, who do they know, what resources they have etc. and change their S.M.A.R.T. life goals as they go along their employment journey.
Science is the backbone of many civilizations: because it has developed, new and improved life is possible. It is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a methodology based on evidence. Scientific research provides back-up for many of todays’ domains of human activity, especially in situations of global significance. Even though scientific subjects are well present in todays’ schools e.g., biology and physics, there are still challenges with which VET students are faced with when it comes to fully grasping knowledge taught and which will be discussed in the text below.
The challenges include:
- How to master the fear of science?
More than often students have an unjustifiable fear towards subjects in the scientific field. The problem lies in the conveying of information: facts are presented in a dry and boring way, without real life examples which makes the learning abstract and difficult. The students are sitting down, in a passive state, while the teacher is writing on the blackboard. In this fashion students tend to be discouraged from pursuing further scientific knowledge and settle for the facts they have been presented with and have learned by heart. It is noteworthy to mention that student’s attention leans towards the exam grades and not towards acquiring and understanding learned facts.
· How to find a scientific link?
The beauty of science which often goes unrecognizable lays in the fact that it has many different domains which give an opportunity for an interested mind to diversify. However, these scientific domains are cut one from the other in the sense that there is no link between the lessons taught in school. When combining multiple scientific fields students could see the potential of knowledge and could make a greater impact than previously possible.
· Where is the equipment?
Many of scientific research and experiments don’t have the possibility to be conducted in real life school environment. Students read about experiments from their books while consulting the adjacent photographs but without taking part in conducting them themselves. The problem lies in the fact that most schools aren’t keeping up with acquiring new scientific equipment while their existing one is out-dated. This leads to students not getting hands-on and being deprived on one of the most interesting ways of scientific learning: learning in the labs.
· Where is the staff?
Science has to be taught by qualified teachers who also take part in modifying and approving of the school curriculum. Because that isn’t the case in many schools across different scientific teachings, the lessons are poorly structured and the knowledge even more poorly transferred. The teaching staff is often insufficiently prepared and trained when it comes to the development of new scientific schools’ programmes as the programmes need to keep up with the ever-changing scientific breakthroughs.
Technology stands for the manipulation of scientific knowledge in order to change the human environment. Technological advancements are the ones making everyday life easier across various domains of human interest e.g., transportation, communication, energy, construction. New ways of simplifying human activities are on the brink of emerging on a daily level and thereby play a significant role in forming new business opportunities to new coming students. This is why understanding challenges in this field is of crucial importance and will be discussed below.
The challenges include:
- How to keep up?
The fact is, technology is ever changing e.g., new ways of communication or transportation are just one click away. However, this fast pace of development can impose a significant problem for students as they are required to constantly adjust their knowledge to the current state of art in the technological world. This is a certain threat which should be dealt with on both fronts: the students have to be taught how to deal with the ever-changing technological advancements while teachers have to be able to convey new knowledge in a way that the past one serves as a base and any future one will not be intimidated by but rather welcomed and easily acquired.
· What about the out-dated equipment?
Technology is developing in a fast pace but it seems as if the educational system is more than often not keeping up with it. One of the biggest problems in todays’ educational systems is the out-dated technological equipment in classrooms which cannot give sufficient base knowledge for easy transitions between present and future technological advancements. Students are thereby deprived of a wider spectre of technological knowledge they could have and could struggle and possibly miss business opportunities because of their poor technological backgrounds.
· What about insufficiently trained teaching staff?
This challenge is connected to the fact that the teaching staff is also more than often insufficiently professionally trained or reluctant to make as dynamic changes as required which means they don’t have the right tools to convey the knowledge to the students in real time school lectures.
· What about simplifying technology for both genders?
It should be pointed out that in todays’ society male dominance is present when considering technological classes e.g., computer classes. The fact that female students are more reluctant to feel comfortable when solving a computer-based problem points out to a significant issue which should be dealt with. Female students don’t take part from an early age in computer-based activities e.g., computer games, hence should be stimulated in a different fashion in order to take more interest in mastering that kind of knowledge.
Engineering stands for the manipulation of scientific principles in order to create and build machines, structures and other but also to advance human life across various domains. It is a field of work which is extremely desirable and fruitful in that it gives numerous opportunities to be further explored. Students who decided to take part in engineering studies develop their skills in different fields and acquire a certain framework of thinking which enables them to adjust to distinct problems at hand finding suitable solutions. This field includes many challenges which should be overcome in order for students to take more part in it.
The challenges include:
- What is the gender distribution?
Similarly, to challenges in the field of technology, female students more than often decide to opt for social studies rather than engineering. There is a certain degree of fear in girls connected to engineering which is backed up by professors favouring male students through the course of the lectures. It is an ever-present issue which disables different points of view and thinking processes from coming together and finding a much broader pool of solutions for a given task. Again, female students have to be stimulated in a different way in order to take part in engineering studies which is of a crucial importance.
· Where is the practical part?
Current school curriculums are more than often out-dated and still rely on the passive knowledge distribution via lectures in classrooms. Students, especially the younger generations, rely on the hands-on and visual stimuli when it comes to learning. This represents a problem for many schools as the equipment for possible experiments is out-dated or non-existent at all. The practical lecture model could create a vertical link between high-school and university studies by conducting numerous visits of both parties to different facilities on one hand showing the problems with the young generations and on the other showing what the possibilities further on entail.
· How to keep up?
Again, similarly to challenges in technology, there is a certain difficulty to keep up with the newness present in engineering studies. Studies have to rely on teaching students not the conventional way of thinking frameworks, learning by heart, but rather how to adapt to new environments and problems by successfully implementing learned principles. This challenge also includes the problem of teachers which have to show constant ingenuity in their teaching methods so the students are more resilient to changes.
· How to teach pressing issues?
One of the most pressing issues which todays’ society is facing is climate change. It is omnipresent in many daily news, articles and EU’s initiatives. Engineering serves as the means with which this issue can be dealt with and therefore a careful approach in lectures to the younger generations has to be taken.
Arts stands for expressing one’s inner self through mediums: music, pictures, sculpting, painting etc. Artistic behaviour in any shape or form enables a person to use and train different parts of their brain, forming new neuropathways which can be used when tackling problems in other fields e.g., science, engineering, technology etc., in order to create a diverse, more creative solution. Artistic personal development is therefore of a high relevance and its challenges should be further explored as shown in the text below.
The challenges include:
· How to enable students in finding their artistic side?
Majority of focus when it comes to education, especially when it comes to VET education, is put on the subjects which are directly correlating with the student’s future work preferences. Artistic behaviour and its further development are thereby put on the backburner more than often as the additional, leisure or extracurricular subjects making the students believe this type of education is somewhat less relevant to their future careers. As previously stated, an innerweb in lectures is ought to be set up so that knowledge and way of regarding certain phenomena’s, problems and facts can be trespassed between fields complementing each other and enabling the student to be more diverse in their thinking processes.
· How to deal with lack of trained staff/space/time?
Arts classes have to be led by individuals who are sufficiently trained and prepared, which means that more than often external associates are needed. Not only that, but arts classes take up space (special classrooms with props and tools) and need time as artistic line of thought cannot be stimulated in a short time frame.
Mathematical knowledge is the base for all other line of research: it can be found from arts to engineering, in all aspects of human development and life. Since it is the basis of many human functions it is also imperative to be taught in a right way so that students can yield its principals as needed.
The challenges include:
· What about the fear?
Since mathematics is a line of study which has only one right answer, there is no room for subjectivism. This rigidness together with the set-up examination and grading systems leads numerous young individuals to develop a certain fear towards calculations and fully grasping the mathematical concepts at hand. Current lectures have to be presented with a certain degree of creativity to ease up the students, possibly giving them more autonomy so that a proper way of thinking is generated which will help them with any future mathematical problems.
· What about previous knowledge?
Mathematics is one of the studies which has the need to continuously accumulate knowledge: anything learned in the previous school year serves as a base for lectures in the next one. This creates a problem if the students for any given reason e.g., inadequate teacher, have not been given proper lectures. This accumulation of ignorance can lead up to serious problems later on in their respective academic careers and life. Constant supervision of the quality of lectures e.g., questionnaires at the end of the school year, should be taking place in order to insure there are no long-term effects of poor-quality lectures.
· What is the meaning of it all?
Since mathematics is more than often abstract, and is taught in such a way, student lack to see the importance of fully understanding certain lectures. They don’t see the connection of it all and thereby don’t enter open-mindedly into the mathematical problem at hand. Clearer goals of certain lectures have to be stated at the beginning of each one so that the students find the relevance and thereby more openly approach the learning process.
· What about the classroom dynamics?
Teachers have to be constantly up to part when concerning the quality and content of their lectures: they have to be trained properly to deliver knowledge to a larger quantity of students in the right way so it ‘sticks’ with them which requires a continuous creative approach. At the same time the classroom size, or the conventional classroom division could be up for discussion: the number of students disables a dynamic way of conducting classes, where smaller groups are needed in order to let every student get a chance to tackle a mathematical problem at hand and try to solve it.
Ecology is the study of people and organisms, how they relate to each other together with their relation to the environment. Since the interconnection between all living things is undeniable, a certain degree of caution and self-awareness has to be taken into consideration when regarding impact of each. This is why it is as important to be aware of the challenges pressing the studies of ecology in the current curricular system.
The challenges include:
· How to implement it in standard school education?
Even though ecology is in part covered in the lessons of biology, it hasn’t got its own place in the school curricula. Students aren’t aware to the full extend what is their correlation on a much deeper level to their environment and aren’t learning about it sufficiently enough through their existing courses. Ecology should be represented to a greater extend in one of two ways: taking parts of existing biology lessons which could be transferred to additional knowledge or creating an individual subject which would stress the importance of ecological phenomena and research through a different kind of class lectures.
· What does the E.U. say about it?
The interconnection between life on this planet and the impact it has on its respective environment is shown through the European Union’s Green Deal initiative: an initiative which calls for a change. Since humans are the ones with the potential to modify their behaviour in order to make that positive change it is imperative to make the students aware of what their contribution to the greater scheme of things could be.
· Are we learning about recycling potential?
Even though recycling bins have been put up in schools throughout international school systems there is still uncertainty and ignorance present in young individuals as to what recycling (or upcycling) actually means and what is their role in that system. Further workshops together with additional integration of set notions in the curricula should be added.
· Are there enough practical lessons (or means for them)?
Practical lessons have proven fruitful when concerning lectures which can be displayed in a physical form rather than taught through books and notes. Students learn better when given the chance of hands-on experimenting or while visiting institutions which could provide a different view to lessons taught in classrooms. However, practical lessons entice a certain degree of additional financial resources which are more than often difficult to obtain for many schools. This is why external partners to the schools should be prompted to take part in enriching existing curricula.