26 August 2007

Entrepreneurship - better start early!

While having a drink at one of my favourite bars, a friend told me a story that really shocked me. She had been talking to a colleauge of hers, who is a parent of a child. Nowadays, the colleague told my friend, kids are expected to create a portfolio twice a year - in kindergarten! I imagine that the "portfolio" is a collection of everything that the kid has produced during 6 months; drawings etc. I don't know whether this was my friend's interpretation, or if it was what the colleague said, but the thought here would be that by creating a portfolio the kids would be taught the virtue of consistency - that it is important to finish what one has started.

The kids are also, the colleague reported, asked to make self-evaluations. In these, the kids are evaluating how they are progressing, how their general attitude is, what contacts they have with other kindergarten kids etc. As I remember the story, the colleague's kid was five.

Now, to me, this sounds like a horrible attempt to prepare kids for a future of entrepreneurship. Already in kindergarten, they are informed about the value of viewing oneself as a creator of "projects". Every activity - be it drawing, building things - is not important or fun in itself - it is worth while doing as a means for something else. The idea seems to be that the activities that kids are generally engaged in should be a preparation for the reality of the labor market: one should possess many different skills, be ready to critically evaluate one's project. And even more importantly: one should reserve one's energy for valuable things only. Valuable, that is, from the perspective of "entrepreneurship".

In some ways, this whole idea seems absurdly confused. Of course, a kid learns, by and by, to see herself in relation to others: she learns what is considered important by others (I do not mean this in a stimulus-response way, but rather in an existential sense), and she learns what it means that one is understood in a particular way. But it seems outrageously stupid to think that childen could be taught self-knowledge systematically. I don't think it is a good idea that kids, from childhood onwards, should pursue a project of "creating an identity". I mean: how does one perceive life if almost anything one does could, and should, be collected in a "portfolio"?

Another dimension of this story is, of course, political. The kindergarten in the story seems to have some sort of agenda as to how they, in the best way possible, can influence the kids and prepare them for what is most vital in life: business.

Must I say I am "somewhat critical" of an idea that kids should be moulded into entrepreneurs already by the age of five?


trollet said...

Very scarry to hear. Kids should be kids!

emptyflow said...

Exactly. I hope this is not a common trend. If it is, then it is really, really scary. And even if it is not a common trend, it is still scary.

Uut said...

I agree, what a bloody scary story.

Little Miss Sunshine was a wonderfully disarming film that dealt with related things.