Is the Ugandan School System Designed to Produce Entrepreneurs? [opinion]

Sir Richard Branson in his book, “Like A Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School” argues, “Business Schools are wonderful places and yet, in hindsight, I am thankful I never went to one – assuming that is that any of them would have had me… . Had I pursued my education long enough to learn all the conventional dos and don’ts of starting a business I often wonder how different my career might have been.” Being a school dropout who has done marvels in the business world, I am inclined to take the thinking of Richard Branson seriously. To be blunt the traditional school system was not designed for entrepreneurs but job-seekers. The methods of teaching and learning, and to some degree, the content of the learning in traditional schools is biased towards creating passive thinking and not original thinking. It produces more conformance mindset and not radical mindset.

John Tylor Gatto said, “Our current school system is based on a model that was developed to teach children to obey orders and do as they are told. Compliant and obedient students become employees who are content to work for the rich or become soldiers who sacrifice their lives to protect the wealth of the rich.” His assertions were echoed by another piece of controversial writing by G. Edward Griffin in “The Creature from Jekyll Island,” on Rockefeller’s General Education Board, founded in 1903

“The purpose of the foundation (General Education Board) was to use the power of money, not to raise the level of education in America, as was widely believed at that time, but to influence the direction of education… The object was to use the classroom to teach attitudes that encourage people to be passive and submissive to their rulers. The goal was – and is- to create citizens who were educated enough for productive work under supervision but not enough to question authority or seek to rise above the class. True education was to be restricted to the sons and daughters of the elite. For the rest, it would be better to produce skilled workers with no particular aspirations other than to enjoy life.”

I am not discrediting traditional education. By far, we still need it and it helps open up our minds and gets us prepared for the competitive modern world. But it falls short of helping the students become entrepreneurs. The structured way of learning in boxed classrooms is the complete opposite of how entrepreneurs think and learn. It is not a surprise that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Albeit Einstein, Thomas Edison and many more are classical examples of great entrepreneurs that could not fit in the traditional classrooms. But there are also numerous examples of entrepreneurs who survived the school system until they branched off to pursue their entrepreneurial aentures.

There are some fundamental challenges with the way the traditional school system imparts knowledge and measures success that sadly kills the entrepreneurship genius of many bright students. In his book, “If You Want To Be Happy and Rich, Don’t Go To School?” Robert Kiyosaki highlights some of the weaknesses with the traditional school system. Paraphrasing his ideas in my own words, some of these weaknesses are:

1. USING ONE YARDSTICK TO MEASURE INTELLIGENCE: In the traditional school system, everyone is measured using one yardstick. If it is Biology or Mathematics, then everyone is required to sit and write the same exam, in the same time frame and then the teacher marks the answers and labels some intelligent while others are branded dull. But think of it people are different, they think differently, they process things differently. Some are quick thinkers while others take time to process and digest information. Why then should all students be given the same time frame to write an exam? Why should it be a written exam and not give options to others to give answers orally?

2. PUNISHES FAILURE: In the traditional school system, when you don’t get the same answer as your teacher, you are failed. And failing in school is demonised so much that students are conditioned to fear failure. This kills the entrepreneurial spirit in students because in the real business world, failing is part of the success formula. Thomas Edison conducted more than 999 experiments which in the school philosophy were failures but while in the entrepreneurial world, they were positive steps towards progress and success.

3. PROMOTES CONFORMITY: In the traditional school system, everyone is expected to do the same things at scheduled times. If the bell rings, everyone has to act, whether get into class or get out of it. School uniforms are the same colour in the same school. All students just look like clones of each other. Entrepreneurs have a radical mind. They hate to be forced to conform. They like to experiment and do things very differently and original. They hate fixed schedules and like to be left alone to do “their own thing”. This is why people who stay very long in school rarely become entrepreneurs. They are shaped and cut to size as loyal and submissive employees. This is why very few professors can succeed to run businesses, they simply stayed too long in a system that teaches conformity.

4. VALUES KNOWLEDGE OVER IMAGINATION: In the school system, knowledge is power. And where do the students get the knowledge from? From teachers, lectures and textbooks historic recorded information. Entrepreneurs on the other hand, thrive on imagination. They build from the knowledge blocks to create new knowledge through imagination. Out of their imagination, creativity and innovation, they create products needed in society.

Is the school system designed to produce entrepreneurs? Check the successful entrepreneurs in your country, and you will get your answer. In Uganda, just take stock of the people that control commerce and trade the Asians. Now, find out how many Asians are studying at the Universities in Uganda. Please share with me your findings.

Source : The Independent

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