SME World Forum

The True Essence of an Entrepreneurial Educator

Monday, April 20, 2020 By: Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy and Dr. Alex DeNoble

From Sudden Crisis to Prepared Planning:

This moment of connected isolation has changed everyone’s plans from cancellations to postponements. We have re-envisioned and amended our preconceived ideas about learning, teaching, working, and producing. It has only been through acceptance of our new normal that we have found the encouragement and creativity necessary to critically reflect, in a way that allows us to reimagine our current capacities, capabilities, and preconceived pedagogies. In doing so, our new normal will hopefully become something more than what must be, and it instead transforms into something better, an environment that cares and supports all its actors.

As we recognize the absoluteness of our current situation, there has never been a better time to tease apart our current system, to identify our strengths, and to eventually rebuild our new, more reliable, and more expansive community. In thinking about entrepreneurship and innovation during this changing time, educators, researchers, practitioners, and learners must decide what needs to be amended in our current pedagogies of entrepreneurship that will eventually allow us to create more prepared entrepreneurs appropriately. That is those ready to learn and adapt to the world’s pressing and ever-changing challenges. Thinking about entrepreneurship as a contact sport, the game starts with engagement, a general desire to play; however, after, students need to understand the language, tools, concepts, and theories that underlie the rules of the game. We can start to demonstrate, then, that it takes more than just an entrepreneurial mindset. The skills to act on our ideas and passions, in addition to the guidance to respond appropriately to the demands of creation and innovation are essential.

In clarifying the true essence of an entrepreneurial educator, the focus moves from the possibility of teaching someone to be an entrepreneur if the entrepreneur is open to learning. The idea is that educators are not creating a passion for their students, but instead, they are fueling it and guiding it. Educators are looking for students who have the desire, the “fire in their belly,” to help them develop their skill sets, professional networks, and frameworks to think about complex entrepreneurial matters as mentioned by Professor Alex DeNoble from San Diego State University. As the entrepreneurial path includes many assumptions and, often, very little knowledge supporting these expectations and beliefs, it is only those who behold an entrepreneurial spirit that will survive the unraveling of their assumptions. This is the determining point of an entrepreneur, one that makes disappointments into their ending or those who transform these missteps into their reassessment and continue with a new lense.

In looking at the California Entrepreneurship Educators Conference, a local conference that, after its creation, attracted quite an international community, one understands the embodiment of entrepreneurial spirit. Initially, this conference would be canceled because of the travel limitations put in place due to the current pandemic. However, by recognizing the strengths that this crisis has created, for example, the public’s newly-found, general comfort in engaging online, we can reimagine a conference that is not only transmitted online, but that is enhanced upon. After a year of preparation, the solution is not to postpone or cancel the conference, but to host a better conference online. Therefore, the essential topics and the constant learning that takes place during this conference transforms with its platform.

In setting limits on entrepreneurs, we are only giving them a more significant opportunity to create and innovate. As Dr. Alex DeNoble, Professor at San Diego State University, and Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, Deputy Chair of the Department of Management at the George Washington University, converse, they challenge each other to further develop upon their initial responses. As the two professors, both active in their local and global communities’ work for entrepreneurial studies and right, describe their questions, they end the discussion at a crossroad, one at which they are excited about the future while remaining informed by the past. In hopes of amplifying the academic perspective, they promote the entrepreneurial spirit, which seeks to thrive in the face of limitation. By recognizing the strengths of their communities and others, this conversation acted only as a predecessor to the conversations that occurred at the 2020 California Entrepreneurship Educator Conference.

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