Teaching Entrepreneurship in High School

DL.INCUBATOR (39 of 52) (2)The pandemic ushered in a new normal— one that requires us to be agile, creative problem solve, and to try (and fail at) new things.  Great skills to learn and hone as even prior to 2020, it was predicted that eighty-five percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet

As the world becomes more globalized, teaching entrepreneurship is more critical than ever as students need the skills of an entrepreneur to solve complex problems, and artfully navigate ambiguity creatively.  In fact, employer expectations are increasingly in the arena of 'human skills' or 'durable skills', according to the World Economic Forum Job Report.

This is a picture of students brainstorming around a laptopA high school entrepreneurship class is different from your average high school business class. However, entrepreneurship is not just about teaching the hard skills around creating a business, it's about empowering students with not only an entrepreneurial mindset, but the skills, knowledge and behaviors that can serve them regardless of career path.  This is real-world learning that can set students up for long-term success. Read on to discover more about youth entrepreneurship, why teaching high school entrepreneurship at school can make a major impact, and what to look for in an entrepreneurship teacher.


High School Business Teacher vs Entrepreneurship Teacher

Teaching entrepreneurship in the classroom goes beyond teaching standard topics like marketing and accounting skills. The methods and perspectives taught in the average business class focus on sustenance and growth for already-established businesses. Entrepreneurship students learn practices that successful entrepreneurs use today to develop, test, and launch a business, all while gaining skills around problem solving, iteration, and collaboration.

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Not to mention, established companies seek to hire employees with an entrepreneurial mindset to drive innovation, relevancy and competitive advantage at these organizations - often called intrapreneurship.  Those with these skills and mindset are prime for these roles as they are go-getters, self-starters, and—perhaps most importantly—entrepreneurs are comfortable navigating through the unknown - working to solve problems and create opportunities.


Bringing the Real World Into the Classroom

In the traditional classroom setting, students are taught not to fail—which is admirable, but not always realistic. In an INCubatoredu entrepreneurship classroom, failure is encouraged. Why is this?

“When you fail in regular classes, you’re failing within a simulation. But when you fail within an INCubatoredu class, you’re failing within the realm of real life,” says a former INCubatoredu student. “Being able to recover, and using skills that you will need for the rest of your life has a greater impact than knowing the name of the 18th president.”

2018-02-07 Naperville North - Student TeamExperiencing and recovering from failure is vastly important in the modern world, and a key trait of entrepreneurship education. At Uncharted Learning, we believe it’s more important to experience engaging, hands-on work than to memorize terms. Rather than refer to notes or study guides, INCubatoredu students gain and retain the information they learn from real-world applications.

“I have it in my head because we learned and used the concepts in the INC program,” says another former INCubatoredu student. “Those concepts are a part of me now, not a part of a textbook.” This anecdote demonstrates the deeper learning that takes place when a student applies concepts to their everyday life, instead of just memorizing and regurgitating them.

The content and skills taught in entrepreneurship classes, such as creating and testing a new business concept, help students gain confidence as they continue to explore their education, as well as possible future career paths.

Another INCubatoredu graduate shares, “If every class could incorporate an element from INCubatoredu, that would be a game-changer for education.”

“If every class could incorporate an element from INCubatoredu, that would be a game-changer for education.”

~ Kat Mena, INCubatoredu alum

Key Traits of an Entrepreneurship Teacher

Entrepreneurship teaches students confidence, creativity, and collaboration—and it’s important that the teacher leading the course honors the same attributes. Entrepreneurship teachers should have a growth mindset and a willingness to explore possible solutions with students, rather than a desire to have all the answers on the ready. Often, an entrepreneurship teacher will have a background in business education (but certainly not necessary), but importantly, a willingness to embrace a new way of teaching. 


How to Teach Entrepreneurship?

Teaching entrepreneurship in high school involves a different teaching BHS.Pitch.2020.articlemodel.  The INCubatoredu program embraces the power of community by leveraging the talent of volunteers who infuse the class with a 'real life' perspective.  Our program involves volunteers in the roles of coaches and mentors.  Coaches support the classroom teacher in delivering lessons and providing support around their particular subject matter, like financial modeling or create a value proposition.  Mentors guide a student team throughout the course serving as a source of guidance, networking and real-world support through the progression of the course.  This entrepreneurship teaching 'team' along with evergreen, rigorous curriculum provides students with an authentic, engaging experience.  


Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Leaders

Volunteer.2018-10-29 Kempsville - Mentor Match RevealWhy teach entrepreneurship?  Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. Tough, global challenges await young people of today as they exit the classroom and enter the real world. Don’t you want them to be as equipped as possible for the unknown?  

With entrepreneurship classes like INCubatoredu, they will be.  From creating and iterating on a business idea, to learning to recover from failure, the skills gained in entrepreneurship classes will set them apart while fostering creativity, collaboration, and confidence at an early age.

Get a feel for what an INCubatoredu class is like.  Download a lesson plan to get started, or set up a 'curriculum preview' of our resource library.  Or read more: We asked INCubatoredu student alums: "What Did This Class Do For You

Engaged, Empowered Students See a Sample Lesson Plan 

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