The overall objective of this project is to get higher education institutions to implement entrepreneurship education and/or enhance the quality of entrepreneurship education in their initial teacher education for primary teachers.
The main outcome of this strategic partnership is a toolbox for higher education institutions with initial primary teacher education. The toolbox will allow combining different items for study modules to be used in or adapted to different contexts. It will be flexible also in the way of delivery. The toolbox will be offered in different languages. It will be produced by researching existing national and European learning resources of all kinds, complementing them and providing new material derived from the partners´ local context and the process that lies within this strategic partnership itself. Experiences made during the project and pilot implementation of the toolbox will lead to a guidance report for future users. This and more intellectual outputs of this project are addressing initial primary teacher training.
There are quite a few initiatives offering to teach primary school children the basics of entrepreneurship. Some even offer children the opportunity to learn first-hand how to start and operate their own business. In most European countries the focus for primary entrepreneurship education lies in the entrepreneurial mindsets though: encouraging character building, creativity, solution-oriented thinking, commercial/economic thinking, and social skills. Thus, entrepreneurship education is one step ahead of the school curricula in most countries: To teach children to find resources to put their ideas into action. The project´s definition of entrepreneurship is this: “Entrepreneurship is when you act upon opportunities and ideas and transform them into value for others. The value that is created can be financial, cultural, or social”.
The interested English speaking primary school teacher in-service will find a surprisingly large number of websites offering material and courses.
And even though many European countries have entrepreneurship education in their strategies and curricula also for primary schools, only three countries take it for granted that their future primary teachers have competencies and skills for entrepreneurship education: Denmark, Estonia, Latvia. The University of Jyväskylä in Finland has implemented entrepreneurship education in several modules of teacher education on a compulsory basis.
The EU Commission Report “Entrepreneurship Education: Enabling Teachers as a Critical Success Factor” (2011) states that the core skills linked to entrepreneurship education are seldom a priority in initial teacher education.
We can, therefore, conclude that (compulsory) modules in initial primary teacher education in the EU are still very rare. There is no material for students in initial primary teacher education available.
The international constellation of this strategic partnership and its involvement of schools and other external partners in the design of the project will allow closing this gap. The partnership brings the following competencies together: experience in teaching entrepreneurship in ITE (University of Deusto, Spain, and University College Sjaelland, Denmark), research on EE and expertise in e-learning (Mid-Sweden University), entrepreneurship education as an interdisciplinary research approach (Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany), informal practical EE (Technichus, Sweden), broad insight in EE from different perspectives as a foundation (The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Denmark), creativity as part of EE in initial teacher education (Artesis Plantijn, Belgium) and reviewing EE with policy makers (Vilnius Kollegia, Lithuania). On top of each programme organization´s expertise, each partner will involve 10 students three times throughout the project (three cohorts) and form a network of at least two schools (including pupils, parents, teachers, headmasters) and local businesses (private and/or public).
The project follows the methodical approach of a pedagogical action research cycle: the student course will be repeated twice and accompanied by profound observation and evaluation and continuous improvement, finally leading to a sustainable product. All experiences gained will feed into the guidance report for teacher educators.
The project focuses on initial primary teacher education, but, given the fact that in some programme countries, entrepreneurship education is still seldom connected to primary education (despite governmental strategies and curricula), an impact can also be expected for the local school communities. Plus, the teacher students being offered entrepreneurship education will become `entrepreneurial´ teachers, teachers who act as a coach to prepare the pupils and create an environment which boosts their courage and knowledge to turn ideas into actions.