Enjoying enterprise

10th November 2000 at 00:00
I WAS surprised and a little disappointed by the jaundiced view of Judith Gillespie (TESS, October 27) towards enterprise education. Surely a key issue which continues to sustain enterprise in schools has been overlooked - that enterprise is not only an end in itself but a useful context for developing, among other things, confidence in our young people and a greater capacity for critical thinking.

Like so many good things which happen in schools and which energise and motivate pupils - the school production, the charity events, the links with business mentors - in all of these the process is at least equally important and significant to learning as the end product.

Whatever Judith thinks of the political origins of enterprise, enterprise activity remains a fairly real context for delivering some of those skills and attitudes which we know employers and society value; the ability to work in a team, to negotiate, to problem-solve, to show initiative and to take decisions.

Judith does teachers a disservice by suggesting that they rigidly adopt initiatives both ignorant of the motivation of their political creators and unable to adapt and develop the best aspects of such initiatives.

Of course granny is going to buy the tartan jam jar cover, the card or the furry toy. Raw risk-taking has never been the prime motivator in most enterprise projects. Some woul argue that it never should be. Teachers have seen something of greater value in the whole enterprise business.

When you speak to youngsters involved in such activities, it is seldom the current share price of the mini company or profits margin which they initially reflect on. They recount the highs and lows of the experience: the difficulties of meeting deadlines (when one of the team is off with flu and another is at the dentist), the problems they overcame (Judith's finding a "river to follow down to the valley" comes in different guises) the fall outs and the resolutions over design and marketing strategies.

They talk of their enjoyment, a rare commodity for some these days. Above all they talk with the animation that comes from knowing your subject and the enthusiasm that comes from knowing you played your part.

As for moving forward to embrace the knowledge economy, who is to say that future enterprise projects will not make their "profits" from marketing websites such as www.getaguaranteed1-

inenglish.com. The projects will move on, but the outcome of genuinely engaging youngsters in the development of valuable personal and social skills remains the true benefit. The share price was never the issue. Profits from enterprise are less variable and more enduring than that.

Isobel Taggart

Maunshengh Road



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