THE BLOG
06/25/2014 02:11 pm ET | Updated Aug 25, 2014

5 Tips to "Teach" Entrepreneurship to Students

Okay, you can't really "teach" entrepreneurship. It's an experience, not so much a content-area like history. As Sir Richard Branson put it in a recent interview about implementing enterprise culture at schools, "The best way of learning about anything is doing." That said, teachers all around the world are finding ways to bring entrepreneurship into their instruction. Why? Because in a world with fewer jobs and the increasing ability to make a living off of your passion, it just makes sense.

Here are 5 Tips to Teach Entrepreneurship

1. Teach The Structure of Design Thinking

Using these terms helps provide concrete details for the adolescent brain. Here are the steps in summary.
Want more? Here's an article that further goes into these steps.

The Steps of Design Thinking:

1. Understand the need (a.k.a. Identify the problem)
2. Observe the market
3. Define the problem in detail
4. Ideate possible solutions
5. Prototype possible solutions
6. Take the best prototype and test, test, test it out.

Remember, during the prototyping stage, students get to practice their idea and the classroom can be an incredibly valuable place to learn failure.

2. Use Writing as a Medium to Explore One's Passions.

Many students really struggle to identify what their passions are. It's a very reflective meta-cognitive skill that requires complex thinking and a level of vulnerability many feel uncomfortable to share. Using writing as a tool to explore passions can often be a safe way to chart out what students like and dislike.

A simple method? Give students 1:1 access to the internet and ask them to watch a TED talk. Then, ask students to journal their thoughts, including if they could see themselves doing something similar with their own life, making sure to explain why or why not.

Take it one step further and ask students to share their thoughts with another classmate and write a short response to one another, much like adults do on a popular site like Harvard Business Review or here at The Huffington Post.

3. Show a Variety of Examples to Tap into a Student's Interests: TED or 99u talks, for instance.

Whether or not you use writing as a vehicle to explore passions, TED talks and 99u talks work very well to expose students to innovative ideas and content that students may otherwise never see.

One of the greatest roadblocks for students who don't get this exposure is the resulting achievement gap. This gap is created when one student raised in a privileged setting is exposed to a far greater variety of experiences than a student raised in a disadvantaged setting.

Like Sugata Mitra discovered with his School in the Cloud experiment, the internet can provide students with the content knowledge needed to learn anything and rise above socio-economic limitations.

4. Centralize the Unit with a Text.

To organize a teaching unit, teachers can pull content from a number of texts with a reading level suitable for adolescents. For instance, "Start Something That Matters" and "Kidpreneurs" offers straight-forward easy-to-follow information to help take a napkin idea to viable business model.

In "Start Something That Matters," Blake Mycoskie tells his story of how he started TOMS, a popular shoe company that has both been a highly successful business and has also greatly helped the disadvantaged in the developing world by providing them with shoes on a one-for-one business model. For every shoe purchased, a person in need of shoes in the developing world receives a pair for free.

Blake shares how he started the business of TOMS in a campfire storytelling format and also provides a very easy-to-read breakdown of how students can also create a social purpose business. TOMS also includes a study guide to help teachers so they can include this book into their lesson plans. The reading level is young adult.

Another helpful text, "Kidpreneurs," taps into the playful nature with starting up and taking an idea into a viable working business model.

5. What if Students Make Money from their Classwork?

Okay, by all means there is far more to life than making money, but tapping into this extrinsic motivation does more than provide lunch money. When students actually practice taking their idea into the market, students own their learning and can feel empowered.

Also, it's during practice that students practice their math, their effective rhetorical use of a language, and their need to think scientifically with design thinking to create an effective business plan.

Keep in mind that money is only one form of currency. Students can barter their unique genius, food, or use their talent to help another classmate's project in exchange for a similar agreement. That's business to business (B2B) exchange, isn't it?

Please leave a comment below and share other helpful sources teachers can use to teach entrepreneurship in the classroom.