Danger, adventure, exhaustion, surprise, the unknown – is anyone game for such? Every year, thousands of people step out on some of the world’s greatest treks, fully aware of the risks yet totally unaware of the impact. These are not your average hikers, out for a bit of exercise, fresh air, beautiful scenery and clear pathways; these are your real trekkers, stepping out on long, arduous traipsing, trudging sessions in wild, uncharted areas of the world for days on end.
We may be familiar with the history of the Great Trek made by the Afrikaner people in 1836, escaping from the British settlers in the south of Africa into the vast unknown interior of the country. Walking or travelling by ox cart, they trekked for days and months in large numbers in a mass migration, all with the aim of finding a place to call their home. These were the Voortrekkers, the Early Migrants, the pioneers and pathfinders for later generations.
Depending on our age or taste, we may be more familiar with another great trek, that being Star Trek. Star Trek is the epic Science Fiction story where the heroesare constantly involved in a dangerous journey to find a far-off star. Many readers will know that the intrepid pioneers of Star Trek travelled on the space ship Enterprise, which is, after all, entirely appropriate. Enterprise (or entrepreneurship) is a similar journey, a trek indeed, to find a new star. It is about establishing paths for future generations. Enterprise is prising a way for people to enter new waters; enterprise is bringing a prize to those who enter.
As scholarship is one ship that plays a significant part in education (as we have considered previously), so too is entrepreneurship. In thinking of ships, enterprise might best be described as an ice-breaker, a ship that finds ways through obstructions, coldness and same-ness. Ice-breaking is about easing things up, opening up opportunities, finding ways to move forward, bringing people together. Remember: ships are not built to stay in a harbour;they do not need to stick close to land but should venture forth. Indeed ships are intended to go beyond the horizon, even to places that cannot be seen yet. That is entirely what enterprise, entrepreneurship, is all about.
Schools profess to be good at developing team work and collaboration, and that is good and necessary. However, for society to flourish we also need to develop individualism, entrepreneurship; we need youngsters to be able to go out on their own, to think independently and creatively; they need to grab their opportunities (not just seize the day but squeeze it), to make their own decisions and find their own answers, to take control of their lives. Too many of our youngsters are being pushed onto the crowded, well-worn path of university, of respectability and predictability, of reputation and profession. We need also to teach them how to take the initiative, to break the ice, to branch out on their own. We need to nurture the qualities of vision, passion, curiosity, creativity, adaptability, courage, (appropriate and considered) risk-taking, persistence and strategy.
So how can we help our children get aboard entrepreneurship? They do not need to stay on land and go the university route. They need to heed many of the words of the legends of Star Trek. They need to be prepared “to boldly go where no man has gone before”. While many will claim like Spock that,“One man cannot summon the future”, we need to counter such thinking as Captain Kirk did: “But one man can change the present!” Our children can change their present.The Captain of the USS Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard, declared that: “There is a way out of every box, a solution to every puzzle; it’s just a matter of finding it” — is that not true for our children? They need to think out of the box in order to enter (for the) prize. As Picard went on to say, “Things are only impossible until they’re not.” Captain Kirk said a similar thing: “You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, and irrational fear of the unknown. There is no such thing as the unknown. Only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” We need our children to get aboard, not simply abroad.
As with any trek, there will be dangers, enemies, failures but that should not stop people; it should simply reinvigorate them to find another way. Entrepreneurship is not an academic subject. It is a way of life; it is a matter of attitude. We need to launch the good ship enterprise. Beam us up!
- Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. Email: email@example.com, website: www.atschisz