Entrepreneurship is not a school subject

There are tremendous benefits to engaging students with "real world" problems in school. Instilling a capitalist mindset shouldn't be one of them.

Having declared myself a huge supporter of BC's new curriculum, I have a lot of conversations about its strengths and possibilities. These conversations don't typically lead to the places that I'm critical of it though, so here it goes: I am disappointed for two main reasons that the business subject area has oriented itself so completely to the 'gig-based economy' by pushing entrepreneurship as early as Grade 9.

First, the curriculum defines entrepreneurship for instructors as "taking risks in order to create opportunities". My opinion of this soft-sided concept of entrepreneurship is that it is flawed. Even older students than Grade 9s struggle to perceive 'risk' properly. The reality that they lack the life experience to appreciate the stakes of 'risk' in an employment context makes me question if this early introduction is at all useful. In the absence of ever having paid rent, bought weekly groceries with money they had to earn, or having to unexpectedly spend $1000 on a car repair, they focus instead on the "to create opportunities" part. Similarly instructors, with no way to meaningfully impart this life experience, also focus on the "to create opportunities" part. Students could end up with a rose-coloured view of how easy/ fun/ lucrative/ straightforward starting a business actually is. This fundamental skewing of what entrepreneurship means is misguided at best and dangerous for new grads at worst.

Second, while I absolutely support the instruction and development of business-related skills and content, I disagree with infusing young people with a profiteering capitalistic mindset. Teaching students as young as Grade 9 to consider things like market saturation and cost minimization is a surefire way to undermine any future business ethics courses they might take. Similar to the point above, by normalizing these thought-processes before students gain an appreciation for what it is to be self-supported —e.g. the responsibility employers have to the employees they support— we potentially create business owners with a flippant attitude towards capitalism and business practices.

All in all, teaching things like accounting principals, book-keeping, branding, and project management are all excellent for equipping our future business leaders. Making the scrappy dog-eat-dog world of small business a feature of Middle School, however, alongside fractions and models of the solar system, is a misguided idea.

This article is my 7th oldest. It is 376 words long