The Lemonade Stand Paradigm

Originally published: The National Herald

In his influential book “The structure of Scientific Revolutions”, Thomas Kuhn coined a new concept that would radically change the way we perceive knowledge, paradigm shift. According to the American physicist and philosopher, paradigm shifts arise when the dominant paradigm under which normal science operates is rendered incompatible with new phenomena. Besides science, other domains could be examined from this point of view.

The dominant paradigm of contemporary formal education is, now more than ever, called into question. Do our schools prepare students for the challenges future has in store for them? Are the educational tools, methods and processes currently employed, the most appropriate ones? And finally, is an educational paradigm shift a necessity in the context of high youth unemployment, economic crises and rapid changes linked to our complex knowledge-based economy and society?

A key idea that is gaining ground among teachers and researchers, is that entrepreneurial education could be the cornerstone of the school we actually need. It’s not a new idea and it was largely inspired by the lemonade stand, an iconic concept of youthful summertime Americana and the homonym business simulation game, produced for the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium in 1973 and later popularized on the Apple II in 1979.

Obviously, I don’t suggest urging Greek students to start their own lemonade stands. Not even to learn how to start their own business. I suggest viewing the lemonade stand paradigm as an educational approach that incorporates many intriguing ideas. Learning-by-doing, working in interdisciplinary teams, interacting with people outside school and creating value for the local communities are only some of them.

And let’s be honest with ourselves. No one can tell what the job industry will be like, 20 years down the track. Students are constantly asked: What do you wanna be when you grow up? Seeing the world from the lens of an enterpreneur is crucial for all of them on the grounds that their careers are not going to be one straight line. Their careers are going to be an evolving set of opportunities to create value.

Unfortunately, there is much to be done towards the aforementioned direction, especially in Greece! The special Eurobarometer on Entrepreneurship in the EU and beyond, published in 2012, sheds some light on perceptions of and opinions on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across Europe. Respondents were asked whether they had ever taken part in any course or activity at school relating to entrepreneurship, defined as turning ideas into action and developing one's own project. The least positive answers were found in Malta and the United Kingdom (15 %), Italy (16 %) and of course Greece (17 %).

Indubitably, transforming our schools, is not as easy as a piece of cake. Lack of time and resources, teachers’ fear of commercialism, impeding educational structures, assessment difficulties and lack of definitional clarity are some of the challenges we ought to overcome in order to infuse entrepreneurship into education. But in a world that is constantly evolving we can’t afford to stay behind. I am pretty confident, that the newly appointed Minister of Education, N. Kerameus has a grasp understanding of what needs to be done. We, as ONNED, will do our best, to emphasize on the need for radical changes since we strongly believe that future generations deserve better.