Enterprise is popular

3rd November 2000 at 00:00
GOOD to hear from Judith Gillespie again (TESS, October 27) on one of her hobby horses, enterprise education, as it serves as a reminder to those of us involved in this area of the need to confront her one-dimensional view of enterprise.

She also manages to present a skewed perception of manufacturing which again provides ample justification for the Manufacturing Image Group set up by Henry McLeish earlier this year.

I do not disagree with her view that "real enterprise is about problem solving" but it is much more than that. Enterprise is about making things happen, having ideas and doing something about them; taking advantage of opportunity and bringing about change.

Each of the enterprise programmes in primary schools involves young people in their own enterprise where they learn to take responsibility for their own decisions.

It might be a business enterprise, where they are involved in making and selling a product (yes, children love making things), a community enterprise where they organise an event, or an environmental enterprise where they create a garden or play area. These are real experiences and as such provide a unique learning experience.

In 1995 all four main political parties in Scotland signed the CBI Scotland paper endorsing enterprise education, dispelling the myth for good that Enterprise equals Thatcherism. It is no longer enough to have the required qualifications, skills and knowledge in today's labour market; increasingly employers are looking for young people who have a positive "can do" attitude, ie enterprising individuals.

Most of them will work for someone else, but we need to encourage more to consider self-employment as a viable career option, at some stage. We do not expect eight-year-olds to follow Bill Gates and take indefinite leave of absence from school to pursue their business ideas.

If I thought it would serve any useful purpose I would send Judith a copy of the Primary 1 to Plc brochure, which provides the rationale for enterprise education in our schools, colleges and universities. Dinosaurs and How We Used to Live provide a useful context for learning and are very popular school projects, but are about the past. Enterprise projects are about the present and the future, and are very popular with teachers and pupils alike.

Gordon McVie

Drumellan Road, Ayr


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