You might be wondering why your students would benefit from an entrepreneurial education... Let me share some things you have probably noticed in your classroom that have a direct impact on student achievement, and how a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum can help!
Ever wonder why women continue to make up only 27% of congress members, 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs, and 27% of tenure-track faculty? Women and other marginalized groups have perpetually been left out of leadership roles, and there are several intersectional factors that drive this narrative, including hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum that exists in schools makes the opportunity gap among students appear to be a natural human experience, rather than a subconscious and sometimes even explicit form of oppression.
The idea behind the hidden curriculum is that in the classroom students are implicitly taught academically, socially, and culturally informed beliefs, values, and norms, based on whatever the dominant culture is. This informs the ways students are expected to behave and interact with one another and “invisibly governs academic achievement.” Students from low-income communities often lack the resources and cultural competencies that their peers from a higher socioeconomic status may already possess, placing them at an immediate disadvantage the moment they set foot in the classroom.
The hidden curriculum is also gendered. Starting as early as preschool, students are taught how to behave and interact, and studies have shown that this varies between girls and boys. In general, young women are taught to be quieter, more reserved, and more submissive. The disciplinary choices teachers make, the clothing that girls versus boys wear, and the agency and freedom students are given vary and profoundly influence students' learning experiences.
These subtle and nuanced teaching practices, reinforce a women’s status in the social hierarchy, which consistently places men at the top. When students internalize these teachings, it drastically impacts their self-worth and beliefs about their education and career attainment. While progress has been made in recent years, there is still a long way to go until we achieve equitable systemic change on a class, racial, and gender basis.
Entrepreneurship is an essential part of the economy and a driving force in stimulating innovation and growth. Entrepreneurial education should be a standard component of the curriculum in all schools and is particularly important for closing the opportunity gap among students, especially young women. Entrepreneurial education focuses on the importance of critical-thinking skills, creativity, risk-taking, and problem-solving. Not to mention the financial literacy, management, and marketing experience which are foundational aspects of a business. These skill sets are essential for any career path and can begin to level the playing field for students from all backgrounds.
As a young woman who had the opportunity to receive an entrepreneurial education starting in my Sophomore year of high school and continuing through college, I feel passionate that this type of education has the potential to empower young women to be leaders in the classroom and beyond. After taking classes in finance, business plan development, product and service ideation, and social impact work, the scope of opportunity I envisioned for myself widened.
Being able to develop an entrepreneurial mindset not only helped me to be more creative and solution-oriented in the classroom but also enhanced my confidence, and my ability to problem-solve when experiencing personal and professional challenges. Becoming financially literate was also hugely empowering for me. Receiving tangible practice with things like creating a budget, filing taxes, and understanding credit, loans, and investing, made me feel equipped for the real world. These skills are generally not taught in the classroom, yet they are things that every person experiences as an adult and should understand before entering the labor force.
As an educator, you’ve experienced the signs. In co-ed classrooms, especially in subjects that are stereotyped as being “male”, girls’ have higher bars to clear to be acknowledged or embraced intellectually and socially. Career days come and go, yet girls are left with a finite list of potential jobs to pursue that feel “realistic”. Lesson plans and exercises in “leadership” are executed with hypotheticals, rather than giving girls the tools they need to bring their own ideas to fruition.
Entrepreneurship creates opportunities for women to break through the glass ceiling and achieve success on their own terms.
With gender bias and discrimination still prevalent in the traditional labor force, entrepreneurial education offers a way to circumvent these barriers by allowing women to create their own paths and define success on their own terms. Empowering young women with the skills to be leaders in the classroom and beyond opens up opportunities that help to remove traditional gendered job expectations. Although entrepreneurial education isn’t the catch-all solution to inequities in the classroom, it is a step in the right direction, which will equip students with the skills needed to strive for success they may have never thought possible.
At Mindset & Milestones, we believe all students should be given the opportunity to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, that is why we created comprehensive lesson plans, resources, and classroom activities that enhance student learning. By providing students with projects and skills that have real-world applications, they feel empowered to take ownership of their work and engagement in the classroom and beyond. Mindset Essentials for Teachers was created to help educators like you facilitate meaningful discussions and collaboration that ultimately shift girls’ mindsets around what’s possible.
It’s a turn-key solution that can be implemented into your existing curriculum and integrated with your teaching style to enhance the content you’re already presenting.
We’ve designed this entrepreneurial education curriculum at the intersection of life skills, college preparation, and classroom integration. It’s been reviewed and refined through the lens of students, their ideas, and the teachers that are willing to step into the mentor roles to guide girls on their entrepreneurial journeys. Are you ready to join us in our mission to empower young women through entrepreneurship?