Posted on 06/02/2020
What is the point of Enterprise? - Guest Blog By Morgan Browne Assistant Headteacher in charge of Enterprise and Personal development
What is the point?
If you are a philosopher, a parent, or a teacher this is a question you will have been asked... a lot. “What is the point of algebra? How will it help me in the ‘real world’?”
“What is the point of a tie? Most businessmen don’t even wear them?”
“What is the point of school? I’m going to be a _______ (insert dream job here)”.
Last week saw Fulham Boys School embrace that question with our very first ‘What’s the point of… Week’. We encouraged students to question every aspect of the school day, from poetry to punctuality, in order to squash the myth that the ' real world’ and ‘school’ exist in separate universes, light years apart. We welcomed industry professionals to come in and talk to our boys about their educational and professional journeys and invited them to quiz them about the point of things in the ‘real world’. We can talk all day about the importance of spelling, but until you hear an employer talk about throwing half read CV’s in the binfor spelling mistakes, it is meaningless and abstract.
When you invite students to question the point of the constructs we, as educators, value it throws up some very interesting conversations and really forces you to look at why we do the things the way we do. As one colleague said, ‘ If you look at a tie too long it really does start to seem odd.’ In the midst of this school wide existential crisis one question was asked to me more than any other.
‘What is the point of Enterprise?'
This is a fair question. When I was first questioned about Enterprise, when joining the school, I cobbled together an answer about the importance of entrepreneurship and a can do attitude. Ms Gaude would outline the importance of engaging with our society and giving back. Ms Farrell would illustrate how integral metacognition is to the learning journey and the benefits of an awareness of our own personal strengths and weaknesses. Enterprise, as my predecessor in this role once said, is an ‘unwieldy beast’ that is difficult to pin down into a single definition. The best I can do is this lyric from the Scroobious Pip track, ‘Introdiction’ when he says, ‘You see a mousetrap, I see free cheese and a challenge’.
But however difficult it is to define Enterprise, its point is evident all around us.
Anyone who watched the French defence demolish England in the six nations on the weekend can see what happens when teamwork and a have a go attitude is pitted against complacency and individual brilliance. It is no surprise that the most successful rugby team in England’s history on the pitch (the 2003 world cup winners) have replicated this success off it. Their coach, Clive Woodward, went to great lengths to develop his team as people as well as players. He encouraged them to be varied in their interests and agile in their thinking, creating a group that could use initiative to adjust to the specific challenges of each game. The result? Three 6 nations trophies and a world cup. But more interestingly (from a Wales supporter’s perspective) his players have all gone on to be successful in various fields after rugby. Will Greenwood founded a successful travel company, Josh Lewsey is running a branch of EY across Asia and Dallaglio has started a charitable foundation that has raised over £20million.
But can these Enterprise skills be taught? Surely something like a ‘have a go’ attitude is innate? This was the thinking 30 years ago as eager German companies watched the Berlin wall fall. Excited to tap into, the previously off limits, potential of East Berlin, companies hired these industrious workers en masse only to be bitterly disappointed. As the psychologist Michael Frese put it: “Secretaries failed to do a task because they had the wrong telephone number, even though they could obtain the number from another person. Workers waited by broken machines for a supervisor, despite knowing how to fix the problem” Beaten into compliance and out of creativity by the communist regime, East German workers had been trained out of being enterprising. We must ensure we do the opposite at Fulham Boys School.
There is a lot of pressure on educators to get results and to ‘get through the content’ so an education in Enterprise can often seem like an extra, unnecessary luxury that is reserved for private schools with more time or resources. We must not lose sight of the bigger picture. We must train our young gentlemen, explicitly, to have an enterprising mindset to ensure success, social mobility and sustainable wellbeing.
We do not know what jobs our year 7 students will be going into by the time they finish their education in 2030. We do not know what knowledge they will need. But we do know that they will need to be problem solvers. They will need to work in a team. They will need to be Enterprising.
What is the point of Enterprise?
Enterprise is the point.
If you would like to get involved with Enterprise/ Careers education at Fulham Boys School please email Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.