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

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Category archive: Business education

Sunday May 11 2008

This working boy did the school’s IT.  But this working boy, also in IT, didn’t go to school.  Which didn’t, says the story, hold him back.  (The way it usually does?)

He said: “There aren’t very many jobs for teenagers around except washing-up at hotels or chopping chips for a chippy.

“I wanted to start up my own business doing something that I really enjoyed, was good at, and that I could fit into my free time, at home - and hopefully I will be able to earn some money at the same time.”

There are five comments on this story in the Bridport News, all of them very positive.

Linked to by Carlotta.

Friday April 18 2008

This is a story about a couple of student entrepreneurs, and part of it is about how hard it is to start businesses in the UK.

But this was the bit that particularly interested me:

Both say the final impetus to launch their own company came at Oxford after they joined the university’s student society, Oxford Entrepreneurs (OE) and attended networking events at the Said Business School.

Since its launch five years ago, OE has become the largest student entrepreneur society in the UK, with more than 1,200 members – one in ten of whom are running their own companies.

Student entrepreneur societies.  Interesting.  Maybe you can’t teach entrepreneurship.  But this certainly suggests that you can learn it, if you really want to.  Try learning more here.

Sunday April 13 2008

Yes, get yourself a degree in Tesco studies:

DEGREES designed to widen higher education are to become available from Tesco.

The supermarket chain is to offer its own qualification in retail management, including the arts of display design, special offers and efficient shelf stacking. Teenagers may soon be able to study vocational courses to A-level standard at McDonald’s, a scheme announced in January, before going to Tesco for their degree.

The Tesco FD(A) (Foundation Degree (Arts)) is to be launched this month and will be offered to other retailers who can adapt it.

Manchester University are helping out.

Coincidentally, I was in my local Tesco this afternoon, and took a photograph which included (after much cropping and photo-enhancing to enable anything to be read) this:

image

Here‘s more blurb on this.  In its emphasis on practising easy stuff until more difficult stuff becomes easy also, rather than busting your head against sums which are too hard for you to do easily, it sounds a lot like Kumon.  When I helped out at a Kumon Centre, I remember thinking (and blogging) to the effect that they ought to comuterise their stuff, but probably won’t because they are too keen on keeping control of everything.  Looks like Professor Kageyama is stealing a march on Professor Kumon.  However, it only seems to be available for Nintendo.

The big “11” means that this is their eleventh most popular disc on sale.  Of any sort, I think.

Thursday March 27 2008

Some words of wisdom from Greg Sandow, in a email he sent to the dean of a major music school:

Students should be trained in entrepreneurship, or at least should have the opportunity to be trained. Classical musicians will, increasingly, be finding new career paths, and students should prepare themselves.

Music history needs to be rethought. Students now are taught (as I was [and I suspect many of my blog readers were] the history of music as if it was essentially the history of composition. That fits the standard emphasis on masterworks, and on the musician’s expected role as the servant of the composer. But this doesn’t entirely fit historical reality, and also doesn’t help prepare students for the contemporary world. I’d like much more emphasis on entrepreneurship in the past (it certainly existed), on the role of the audience, and on the role of performing musicians.

Students should be encouraged to find their own musical paths. In classical music, students typically learn the repertoire for their instrument. “I’m a clarinetist, so I’ll play the clarinet repertoire.” In other musical genres, a musician will far more likely say, “I play the clarinet. What music do I want to play on my clarinet?” Yo-Yo Ma is an outstanding example of a current classical music star who takes this not very classical approach. I’d like to see students take it, too, looking into their hearts to find out what kind of music is important to them, and then finding ways to make that music (or, more likely, all those many kinds of musics) part of their professional lives. (And of course I strongly believe that all students should compose. If that’s not going to be a requirement, it should at least be strongly encouraged.)

The entrepreneurship thing is especially interesting.  But, can it be taught?

Wednesday February 20 2008

Troy Dunn thinks so.  Linked to and talked to in a podcast by Instapundit.

Supports what I said about nepotism.  How would you stop a self made millionaire raising self made millionaires?  Why bother?  Don’t complain about it.  Learn about how he does it.

Thursday February 14 2008

imageAmit Varma notes that Cambridge University is establishing a Jawaharlal Nehru Professorship of Indian Business and Enterprise.  Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge.

Varma also links also to what R Vaidyanathan says about this:

All the same, the use of government money ...

... by which he means Indian government money ...

… to facilitate the fund-raising activity of Cambridge or other UK institutions raises several questions.

It is common knowledge that post-Thatcher era, educational institutions in the UK have been forced to raise the fees, particularly for foreign students. Even so, the fees do not cover even 25% of the cost of running these institutions. Hence most of these institutions are going around the world with a begging bowl camouflaged as road shows for their graduate and undergraduate course. They are desperate for funds and their endowments/ corpus is much lesser than that of US universities.

Cambridge, each with around $5 billion as endowments, are far behind Harvard and Yale, which are flush with funds to the tune of $50 billion and $30 billion, respectively. Even comparable US universities like the Texas System or Michigan have much higher endowments than them.

Now, why should a developing country like India fund the declining institutions of the West, and more so, those of the UK?

If Cambridge was so fascinated about Nehru entering it as a student or about the India Story, it should have approached a private financier or company in the UK to fund this endowment.

Varma singled out this:

It is also ironical that the professorship is for business studies, while Nehru was the architect of the licence permit quota Raj in India. It is like the butchers’ association of Texas providing a chair to study Gandhian thought in some US university.

At that LA dinner I attended last night, there was talk of the Oxford and Cambridge “brands”, and of how strong they are.  This piece by Vaidyanathan suggests to me that maybe these brands aren’t so strong after all.

The picture of Nehru that I have used, which I found here, shows him as a Harrow schoolboy.  Here, there is a picture of the young Nehru as an officer cadet at Harrow.  After Cambridge, Nehru became a barrister at the Inner Temple, so Nehru had the whole posh English education treatment.  (This must have been where he got the idea of regulating the life out of the Indian economy.) These two pictures were taken over a hundred years ago.

Thursday January 10 2008

David Thompson links to an article by Stefan Theil entitled Europe’s Philosophy of Failure about the ideological content of education in ... well, this quote tells you:

Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation. Educated in schools that teach a skewed ideology, they are exposed to a dogma that runs counter to core beliefs shared by many other Western countries. They study from textbooks filled with a doctrine of dissent, which they learn to recite as they prepare to attend many of the better universities in the world. Extracting these children from the jaws of bias could mean the difference between world prosperity and menacing global rifts. And doing so will not be easy. But not because these children are found in the madrasas of Pakistan or the state-controlled schools of Saudi Arabia. They are not. Rather, they live in two of the world’s great democracies - France and Germany.

That’s how the piece starts.  Here is another interesting paragraph:

Attitudes and mind-sets, it is increasingly being shown, are closely related to a country’s economic performance. Edmund Phelps, a Columbia University economist and Nobel laureate, contends that attitudes toward markets, work, and risk-taking are significantly more powerful in explaining the variation in countries’ actual economic performance than the traditional factors upon which economists focus, including social spending, tax rates, and labor-market regulation. The connection between capitalism and culture, once famously described by Max Weber, also helps explain continental Europe’s poor record in entrepreneurship and innovation. A study by the Massachusetts-based Monitor Group, the Entrepreneurship Benchmarking Index, looks at nine countries and finds a powerful correlation between attitudes about economics and actual corporate performance. The researchers find that attitudes explain 40 percent of the variation in start-up and company growth rates - by far the strongest correlation of any of the 31 indicators they tested. If countries such as France and Germany hope to boost entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic dynamism - as their leaders claim they do - the most effective way to make that happen may be to use education to boost the cultural legitimacy of going into business.

Trouble is, where will they find the teachers to do that, if they’ve all been brainwashed to hate capitalism?

The link between education and economic development is widely accepted, but much depends on what kind of education it is.

Wednesday January 09 2008

From the BBC today:

Pupils are being taught which cutlery to use and whether to remove their jackets at dinner at an independent school in Brighton.

Brighton College introduced the classes in etiquette after a survey of company directors said graduates displayed impoliteness and poor table manners.

Headmaster Richard Cairns said exams were “only part” of preparation for adult life.

Strictly speaking that’s all about etiquette rather that manners, but the two things overlap, rather as, on the grandest educational scale, “training” and “education” do.  Teach the particulars, and while doing that, smuggle in and draw out the underlying principles.

The survey last month by the Institute of Directors said a quarter of company directors believed recent graduates showed impoliteness and poor table manners which could project an unprofessional image.

There you go.  Impoliteness.

In my tiny career as a part-time teacher I have found myself also trying to teach Ps and Qs of the politeness sort as well as of the merely alphabetical.

With younger children, I find that the key skill they need at least to know about is simply paying attention.  “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” is something you hear a lot in many classrooms, often – alas – in a very impolite tone.  The way I sometimes phrase it is: “Please at least pretend to pay attention”.  Because a lot of good behaviour does start as pretence, projecting the wrong “image” as the quote above says, just looking as if you are listening, just going through the correct motions.  (This is why etiquette elides into manners.) Later you get into the part, as the actors say.  Pay attention, or look like you’re paying attention, and the person you’re talking too won’t get angry, and is more likely to do what you want.  I try to sell good manners by explaining what they accomplish, rather than merely demand them.

Sometimes I like to demonstrate what if feels like not to be listened to by talking to them while looking away.  “Not so nice, is it?” Close to the heart of good manners is being able to see things, and in particular yourself, from the other person’s point of view.

Another particular thing I find myself trying to teach children is hellos and goodbyes.  Hand shake, eye contact.  Young boys like to get in on the lesson by teaching me their much more complicated hand-shakes, which involve things like high fives, and they then take great pleasure in doing them when we meet again, correcting me until I get it right.  Basically, my lesson about hellos and goodbyes is: do this.  It helps.  The people you deal with will feel less taken for granted.

Going through the motions of good manners
“Their education is completely useless …”
Dyslexics are more likely to own their own companies
Can you be taught to be an entrepreneur?