I was at a TEDx event in Norwich a few weeks ago, if you are unaware of either TEDtalks or TEDx, then they are presentations by those who have either experienced or have experience in certain areas. The presenter then has a maximum of eighteen minutes to bring their experience to life in an interesting and informative manner.
This particular TEDx event was based on education. The speakers were rolled out onto the stage one after the other and covered all backgrounds, from teachers, authors, pupils and those that had experienced something which had changed their life.
As the day proceeded, and the speakers inspired with their stories, it became obvious that a common thread ran through each presentation. It was not so much the experience that the speakers underwent, (although interestingly supplying the back story, which provided the inspiration), but the way in which they had begun to overcome the challenge, or supply a solution. Especially the mindset that had been applied.
Now this may sound obvious, but is it? I have long been fascinated with mindset, especially regarding entrepreneurialism, and therefore, perhaps take an entrepreneurial mindset for granted. We still live in a society which has, in most, a linear approach to education, the teachers on that TEDx stage were almost begging for change, which perhaps underlined for me that those at the coal face at least recognise it.
It appears that we give children a linear education, and then throw them into a world which has never been more complex or challenging. As with business, life is relatively straightforward to manoeuvre when all is going well, however, it is when it goes off the rails (and it will at some point), that linear is no longer a workable model. As with the speakers on that stage, the mindset to adapt and find solutions became crucial. In both life and business, those that can apply a mindset, whether it is labelled entrepreneurial or creative, are not only able to overcome the challenge, but understand that the solution may bear no resemblance to what they first thought, and in fact may open up a whole new world.
Although I am not naive enough to believe that an education system so reliant on its present model, will change in a relatively short time, it would appear we are running out of time! The world is changing rapidly, we already have an ever widening skills gap, with technology appearing to outstrip the educational needs to fill it. What next? Perhaps an attitude gap, where the gap between what needs to be accomplished becomes so wide, that those leaving the education system no longer believe that it can actually be achieved. This for me is far more dangerous, hope is the one thing that if alive, pushes people on to find solutions, it creates a mindset to seek and implement action, it is the seed that allows anyone the ability to achieve the unachievable.
It is now, in my belief, the duty of those that have the ability, resources and purpose, to stand up and take those willing to listen, work and think, into a new world. Entrepreneurial mindset is the foundation on which we can build, and grow the next generation of problem solvers. They have never been needed more.
By Harry Harris