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Kyle Mark Langman
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Teach kids to take risks! - Thoughts from a teacher

13 May 2014, 07:34

How do we teach kids to take risks?

In my previous article I mentioned that learners need to take risks. I'm teaching a section on entrepreneurship to 14 year old boys, and I began telling them to get the idea of leaving school, studying and getting a job, out of the heads, purely because jobs are scarce, and job security is also not too common.

They need to start thinking differently about it. Get the thought out your head that one day I am going to work for this company or do this job. Begin to think about what business you want to start, and what ideas you believe will change the world.

Many people have all the qualities of an entrepreneur, but lack the key ingredient, “Risk Taker”.

I mentioned that I taught a boy in 2012 who became a YouTube celebrity during his Matric year. He is from Knysna, a small town on the Garden Route, and was making double my salary as his teacher. He is a video blogger, and makes a small fortune, using social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. and now has over 2 Million subscribers to his channel (People from all corners of the earth are following him). He left school and did not study, but chose to build his brand. A big risk, but hey, he is loving it and hugely successful. (Who would have thought that this was possible?)

Things have changed!

Why is it so difficult for us to take risks?

Well, I believe it is difficult because we were always taught to be secure, do things that we know we can do, and make sure that we don’t fail. We constantly think about the “what ifs” and the thought of failing causes us to never try. It does not matter how many great ideas we have, if we cannot take the risk to implement them, nothing will ever happen. (And I'm talking to myself here as well)

Entrepreneurship is vital in South Africa, as we need to create jobs, and ensure that we grow our economy, and that is why schools need to make sure they teach the required skills that learners need to take risks. Entrepreneurship should be the driving force in the classroom, and our goal should be to empower and expose learners to all the necessary skills to become entrepreneurs. Set up a platform for them to learn in a safe environment, where they can grow the confidence to take risks.

I would love to see learners engaged in business simulations during school hours, where they form focus group to brainstorm ideas, discuss the best way to implement these ideas, practice forming a business and growing it, remain creative, cutting edge and at the forefront of technology, always one step ahead of the rest. Constantly change the way they do things, to make sure that they never get too comfortable, and learn to adapt to a changing world. Bring experts into schools to run/lead these focus groups, where learners can tap into their wealth of knowledge and experience. Teach learners how to do research, and to find answers to their questions. Teach learners to present their ideas and business plans in a way that captures investors’ attention, or even gets the support from the rest of the world. Teach learners to think on their feet.

The question is how to implement this into schools where the syllabus is so demanding, and focussed on exams? There is just no time to do this.

Let’s not even begin to discuss teaching these learners a trade. There are just so many of them forced to go the academic route, when a trade is something they could excel in and allow their creativity to blossom.

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