Student entrepreneurs solving problems to fix education

Increased confidence, greater resilience, stronger collaboration skills and improved empathy are just some of the benefits reported by students taking part in one of Australia’s most ambitious education upheavals.

New research by Mitchell Institute at Victoria University reveals how 21 schools across NSW and Victoria are ‘shifting the education paradigm’ by enhancing capabilities and promoting entrepreneurial thinking.

Mitchell researchers worked with a diverse mix of schools to explore how to tailor learning to grow individual talents and better prepare young people for future success.

Mitchell Institute Director, Megan O’Connell said the initiative has uncovered some ideas that could help Australian schools step out of the industrial age and bring education in line with the needs of our modern, global society.

“We have been very excited to see students and teachers from a mix of schools in two states go on a journey together to improve learning and engagement,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Students and teachers worked side by side to give more responsibility to learners to action their ideas, take risks and discover ways to overcome challenges.

“The findings from this approach are resoundingly positive – students said they gained more knowledge, developed new skills and had better relationships with teachers after participating in the initiative.”

The year long trial used entrepreneurial learning principles from internationally renowned education expert, Professor Yong Zhao. These were developing more personalised education experiences, engaging in product-oriented learning to benefit communities, and designing new processes and products.

The research found that students became more flexible, creative, and resourceful after participating in the initiative. They also reported better connections within classrooms, schools and communities as a result of working in networks of schools pursuing similar objectives.

Ms O’Connell said that while the findings are promising, there is still work to be done to ensure schools get the right support to deliver appropriate learning for their unique students.

“Improving education is a huge challenge – it is not a simple case of copying one system and hoping it will work for everyone,” Ms O’Connell explained.

“The fact that many schools are eager to try different learning approaches shows that we need change. But to be successful, educators need guidance and access to evidence that will help them apply promising methods, and our system needs to become more flexible to accommodate continuous growth and change.” ENDS

Media contact: Julia Johnston, 03 9919 4549, 0401 136 114, Julia.Johnston@vu.edu.au