How Israel Encourages Entrepreneurship Education in Schools?

By Galit Zamler, a business and social entrepreneur in Israel.

Unlike the approach that claims: You either have it or you don’t, I claim that “anyone can be an entrepreneur and fulfill their dreams.” This approach led me to develop the “Entrepreneurship for Kids” program for kids in the fourth grade and up. The program became the most popular entrepreneurship program in Israeli elementary schools, and as of late, has been used in middle and high schools as well. Why teach entrepreneurship from a young age?

All entrepreneurs have a few traits in common, including: Belief in their path and in themselves, optimism, practicalness, focus on their goals, creativity, responsibility, determination, ability to learn from mistakes, inspiration, independent thinking, self-discipline, an ability to recognize opportunities, and more… a combination of these helps them become successful.

When we teach entrepreneurship, we provide students with a large variety of helpful tools to help them discover themselves and provide them with a sense of confidence, since for them the sky is the limit, and because each one of them can accomplish great and significant achievements in any area they choose.

Don’t you have to be born with these traits?

Indeed, much research has been done on this topic, and there is still no definitive answer. I think that most of these traits can be learned, and most of us are not born with them. The entrepreneur’s world is a limitless world of imagination, creativity, action, success and contentedness. So why not give every child an equal chance to enjoy this world? We’re speaking of basic skills for success and self-fulfillment in life.

Why is it important to teach entrepreneurship in schools?

One can assume that children whose parents are entrepreneurs will learn entrepreneurship at home, and will know how to use their potential. Nevertheless, passing along the entrepreneurial knowledge, the education, the thinking, and the tools to all students should be a social and financial interest for all of us, in order to create a successful society that thrives in its human resources.

Entrepreneurial education in schools allows us to expose students to different types of ventures, including technological, social, business, innovative and not innovative ventures.

At first, the demand for entrepreneurial education came mostly from parents who wanted to see their children receive practical tools to help them success in the 21st century, which is defined by its many changes and a varying work environment.

But in the last few years, educators want this as well. I remember a middle-school principal in Herzliya who invited me for an introductory meeting. During the meeting, she told me how her daughter, a high school student, reprimanded her that as a principal, she does not make sure that her students will be ready for life, but continues to teach them using the same methods as always. The principal realized that her daughter was right, and she holds the power and ability to change this, so she decided to introduce entrepreneurship lessons.

So how do you teach entrepreneurship in schools?

With the help of the school principal, we recruit teachers who can think outside the box and are willing to leave their comfort zone,  to see the big-picture and to try new things. These are the teachers fit to teach entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, I recommend that the entire school’s staff participate at least in an introductory lecture, so as to allow the teachers to peak into the entrepreneurial world and understand it. This understanding leads most teachers to see abilities and skills in their students that could help them in life, even if they are not related to academic success, and so they appreciate their students more and believe in them.

The teachers receive frontal training in stages, as well as lesson plans, fit for the students’ ages, along with slideshows, videos, stories, exercises and more. These allow them to teach entrepreneurship lessons with confidence, even if they have never been entrepreneurs.

A combination of theoretical knowledge and practical action based on the students’ own ideas creates an interest and desire to learn more.

The result: The students enjoy learning and gain entrepreneurial skills, the parents are satisfied that their students are learning useful tools for life, and the school staff feels that they play an important part in preparing the children for the world outside the school, all due to a relatively simple effort, and through a real connection to the classroom materials.

One of the highlights of entrepreneurial learning is the celebration of “Global Entrepreneurship Week”, during which many entrepreneurs visit schools and tell the students their personal stories, share the lessons they’ve learned and the process they’ve undergone, and more. The process usually includes ups and downs, challenges and obstacles. The week also includes ceremonies about entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship lessons, lectures for parents, and more.

What do you teach students in entrepreneurship lessons?

 The students learn everything that an entrepreneur needs to know in order to succeed with their venture, for example:

Entrepreneurship: Who is an entrepreneur? What personality traits do they need? Do the entrepreneur’s surroundings affect them? How does one begin as an entrepreneur? Learning from the experience of others, entrepreneurs who have failed, and those who succeeded.

Vision- what is it? What for? Examples of peoples’ and companies’ visions.

Setting goals, according to the SMART model.

Business plan- what for? Common errors, parts of the business plan.

Collecting information- why does the entrepreneur need information? What information do they need? From where do we collect information? What do we do with the information?

Intellectual Property- creator rights, trademarks, patents.

Budget- What is a budget, parts of the budget, the basis of the budget, the family as a business with a budget, keeping a budget.

The product- the product and the label, the product’s life-cycle, the process of customer purchases, cost effectiveness, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the theory of exchange, the process of purchase with multi-part products, innovation.

In addition, the students learn topics like: creativity, founding a business, brainstorming, negotiation, smart shopping, humor and optimism, teamwork, business terms, turning challenges into opportunities, public speaking, online marketing, public relations and marketing, business information, persuasion as a tool to get results, social entrepreneurship, and more.

Why does a child need to know what a business plan is?

 Even if we don’t expect a child to find a business and create a business plan right now,  though I’ve seen cases like that, a child who learns how to create a business plan learns, in fact, to appreciate the importance of planning and setting goals, which are the building stones of success in any field.

What drives me to encourage entrepreneurial education from a young age?

There is no secret to success, but there are certain tools, and I want children to learn these at a young age. This greatly affects their personal image and their ability to reach greater achievements in the future.

At school we learn that without high grades our future may be problematic. I support school learning, but when we speak about equal opportunities for every child, we must show them that each one of them can achieve great things.

Anyone can be an entrepreneur, we see successful entrepreneurs who completed their studies successfully, but many who didn’t even finish high school and were still successful.

Entrepreneurial education teaches children to plan, set goals, take responsibility, admit their mistakes, be ready for change, and search for solutions to their problems, all through fulfilling personal potential, positive thinking, independent thinking, action, belief in ones-self, creativity and more. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but anyone can do it, and that is what drives me.

---

Galit Zamler is a business and social entrepreneur, developed the "Entrepreneurship for Kids" program, which is used in many schools in Israel. For 9 years she has been lecturing about entrepreneurial education, training teachers and serving as an advisor and guide for schools teaching entrepreneurship.