OtherShould We Test for Entrepreneurial Aptitude in our Schools?

[polldaddy poll=8282494 align=”right”]It’s back to school today, and students across Oregon are preparing for another year of learning. But are our schools teaching them what they need to know?

One recurring theme in our recent Entrepreneurial Summit: The School of Hard Knocks was that entrepreneurs tend to learn their most valuable lessons outside of school. Two of our speakers – Micah Camden of Little Big Burger and Sean Beers of Korkers Footwear – dropped out of high school, and others talked about college degrees that had little or nothing to do with their entrepreneurial ventures.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, some lessons are best learned the hard way. That said, should we be doing more in our schools to identify entrepreneurial aptitude and hone key entrepreneurial skills? Here’s what Jim Clifton, Chariman and CEO of Gallup, has to say:

The U.S. has no peer at high-level intellectual development. The country has many of the best universities in the world. And the best of America’s private and public K-12 schools do a marvelous job at intellectual development, which is nurtured systematically and intentionally. But entrepreneurial development is completely left to chance. Right now, if you’re a 12th-grader blessed with an unusually high IQ — perhaps even in an inner-city neighborhood like California’s Compton or Watts — testing will find you. And if you’re really brilliant, you’ll get extra special treatment and possibly scholarships to the best schools in the country. You may even get financial help all the way to a Ph.D. at MIT, then go off to NASA, the National Institutes of Health, or the like. If you’re blessed with real talent to think and learn, the system likely will find you.

However, if you were born with rare entrepreneurial talent — unusual determination, optimism, and problem-solving skills — the system has no way of finding you, certainly not in Compton or Watts. Nothing finds you. There is no formal identification system. There are no formal special classes, no colleges bidding for you, no evening classes with the best teachers, and nothing sent to your parents that identifies you as gifted. Colleges and universities place tremendous weight on SAT or ACT scores. But nobody asks about the applicant’s ability to start a company, build an organization, or create millions of customers. America leaves that to chance.

The U.S. sure can identify other rare talents. There are lists that rank blue-chip running backs and quarterbacks, and these are like IQ tests: extremely accurate. The system to find sports stars is as intentional as that of locating people with exceptional intellectual strengths.

Now, imagine how the world would change if there were aptitude scores for entrepreneurial talent — if the U.S. could identify young people with this skill set and get them into accelerated development programs at the best schools. The day when there is a list of “blue-chip potential entrepreneurs” coming out of high school is the day when America will change forever and for the better. Job creation will surge, GDP will grow dramatically, and the country’s whole culture and attitude toward entrepreneurship will be transformed. Most importantly, the country’s core assumption about what fosters long-term economic growth will change.

(Excerpted from Dead Wrong: America’s Economic Assumptions. Read the full article.)

What do you think? Should our schools be doing more to prepare entrepreneurs? 

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