That is the title of a workshop I am running tomorrow for the Young People’s Enterprise Forum at a conference to look at Embedding Enterprise in Further Education.
A fresh look at enterprise….Not an easy challenge when you have been looking at it for decades! How do we engage the history department and the art team?
So how about if we look at Enterprise as a mathematical expression. How would you express it?
I think this has a lot to offer:
E = P x SI
Enterprise is the product of Power multiplied by Self Interest.
Power is the capacity to make things happen to get things done. It is about the ability to organise people, money and other resources to make things happen.
Self Interest is the extent to which we know what it is that we want to achieve. It is about vision, ambition, goals, vocation, purpose, dreams, aspirations and hopes. But self interest is not selfish. Self interest is mediated through a set of relationships with others. With supporters, colleagues, investors and activists (who might have an interest in whether we are helping or harming). Self interest (rightly understood) is the driving force for making progress, for realising potential, for negotiating an interesting and worthwhile life. Increasingly self interest and therefore enteprise is associated with interest in global issues such as climate change, social justice and wellbeing as much as it is about financial wealth.
If this expression has any merit then to embed enterprise in FE – or anywhere else – we need to understand it as an act of embedding the development of power and self interest – rightly understood.
Enterprise becomes a genuine developmental process. It is about equipping people with the knowledge, skills, wisdom and experience to develop their power (capacity to act; to get things done) and really develop an understanding of what lies in their own self interest. It comes straight from the schools of Alinsky and Freire as much as it does from the beliefs of Branson, Sugar et al.
Under this formulation the relevance of enterprise to:
- History and politics (think of Hitler, Gandhi and Mandela as studies in power and self interest as examples of enterprise in action),
- English and the arts (think communication, imagination, visioning), and
- Vocational education becomes very clear.
It allows enterprise to be applied to much more than entrepreneurship. It becomes a discipline for living an interesting and worthwhile life.
And isn’t that what education is meant to prepare us for?
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