Teacher in school

New dissertation: what type of teachers do we want in school?

That being an entrepreneur is good is something many of us have probably heard. But what does being entrepreneurial mean and why is it important in school? A new dissertation from Linnaeus University has studied the concept entrepreneurial learning and how teachers in school work with this.

The author of the dissertation, Carina Holmgren, gives an explanation to why we have entrepreneurial learning in the Swedish compulsory and upper secondary schools:

“Entrepreneurship has been part of the Swedish school for many years. In the beginning, focus was mainly on trade and industry policy. There was a shortage of companies in Sweden and the politicians wanted citizens to start businesses. There was also the idea that being entrepreneurial was a good thing regardless of what you wanted to work with. Therefore, work was initiated to implement entrepreneurial learning in schools and teaching. This brought with it an ideal on how people should be; enterprising, creative, and have a lot of initiative. This view has then been strengthened due to the fact that entrepreneurship in school has become an education policy responsibility”, says Holmgren.

“A fundamental idea is that entrepreneurial learning should permeate all teaching, which means making the most of and developing pupils’ natural curiosity, initiative and self-confidence, starting in the early years. This form of pedagogy should characterise the entire school and all subjects”, Holmgren continues.

Holmgren is interested in the teacher ideal that comes with entrepreneurial learning – the entrepreneurial teacher and how the teachers are steered into taking that position. It is a relatively complex teacher role that offers different ways of being a teacher. She points out three ‘types’ of teachers that are encouraged: the cooperative, the flexible, and the individual-forming teacher. She also points out two types of teachers that are instead being marginalised: the supportive and the autonomous subject teacher.

“I’ve seen that entrepreneurial learning contributes to a renegotiation of how teachers should be and relate to pupils and also to knowledge. Put simply, one can say that the two latter teacher types that are marginalised take different forms of responsibility and focus on subject knowledge. The entrepreneurial teacher instead passes on certain responsibility to the pupils and focuses on process knowledge – how the pupils should be entrepreneurial pupils and citizens and how this upbringing should be carried out. However, shouldering the position of the entrepreneurial teacher is not all that easy; I can see that the teachers I’ve studied are struggling to abandon the role of the supportive teacher. My hope is that my dissertation can create some distance to the expectations that permeate entrepreneurial learning and provide a richer language for talking about it”, Holmgren concludes.

Holmgren has followed three projects in her dissertation work. Two of them focused on continued professional development of teachers. In these, she made observations and participated at teaching. She also carried out interviews with the teachers who took part in the training programme. In addition, she followed the process to implement entrepreneurial learning in the teachers’ teaching practice.

The third project was about developing entrepreneurial learning through, among other things, experience exchange between Swedish and English schools. One of the participating teams had participated in the above mentioned continued professional development. That project gave Holmgren the opportunity to follow the work to implement and develop entrepreneurial learning over time.

Dissertation titel: Formandet av den entreprenöriella läraren. Entreprenöriellt lärande som styrningsteknologi. [Formation of the entreprenurial teacher. Entrepreneurial learning as steering technology]

Carina Holmgren, phone +4670-263 43 33, email carina.holmgren@lnu.se

Carina Sörgårn, communications officer research, phone +46470-70 85 52, email carina.sorgarn@lnu.se