A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Money money money
Previous entry: Ms Gibbons learns about another culture
Wednesday November 28 2007

Incoming from Andy Wood, to whom gratitude for the kind words at the beginning, and for the rest of it:

Good to see the education blog back. I really enjoyed the previous incarnation so I’m sure this one will be a big hit.

Anyway, here’s a question that might make the basis for an item.  Can entrepreneurship be taught?

Irish businessman Bill Cullen thinks it can. He was brought up in a poor part of Dublin but reckons he owes his money-making talents to 1) in part his mother who was a very forceful fruit seller who insisted that he get involved in the market business very early and 2) the training he got running a fruit stall on the streets, learning to buy and negotiate while still only a child.

Bill Cullen is very interesting on this. He says that he learned very early on not to be intimidated by adults and not to get ripped off by them, to quibble over every penny. He also says he learned the value of relationships and favours. He stresses this so much that it seems as important as his business acumen. He has written much more about all this in his business memoir/self-help book Golden Apples.

There is another interesting business insight in the business memoir of Fred DeLuca who set up the Subway take-away sandwich shop as a student sideline. In the event he never completed his degree but Subway became one of the biggest business franchises.

Anyway, he emphasises the value for children of only earning a few pennies here and there. Even if they are just washing cars, baby-sitting or delivering papers is valuable.  He writes: “The size and scope of the job and the money earned doesn’t matter.  What mattered most is that we learned the relationship of work and money, and that we participated in the process of exchanging products and services for money. Transactions, not big transactions, not life-changing transactions , just transactions.” His book is called Start Small and Finish Big.

You might be able to use this as the basis of a blog post.

Indeed.

In some ways I am a nineteen-sixties-era romantic progressive when it comes to education.  But the huge elephant in the room of freedom that most of my fellow progressives neglected and still neglect is the role of economic incentives in the free society.  If children are going to be free to run their own lives and their own educations, why may they not, like free adults, respond to immediate economic incentives?  (Instead of merely distant and vagues ones like “eventually getting a better job”.) Why may they not work now, for money?  Yet, because most “progressives” were (and remain) deeply anti-progressive when it comes to economic freedom, this obvious manifestation of freedom, and obvious incentive to becoming smarter at a very early age, was and remains horribly neglected.