Essential Question for my trip:
To what extent does the Russian educational system foster the entrepreneurial spirit among its students?
Supporting Questions are:
1. Do Russian students have the opportunity to take business classes while in high school?
2. Do they have a chance to participate in business clubs or business competitions, similarly to our DECA club?
3. Does the Russian culture value risk-taking in terms of business and promote innovation among its students in order to compete in a global marketplace?
In preparing my essential question for travel, I can't help but mention that I am sitting among one of our nation's greatest American stories, the American Dream, as many would refer to it as...I sit in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, reflecting on one of the greatest American entrepreneurial stories all of all time - Walt Disney. It is a story that I share with my students and is mentioned in all American business textbooks from high school to PhD school. I can remember studying case study after case study in my MBA program on this ultimate entrepreneurial success story.
Walter "Walt" Elias Disney grew up in Illinois in a working class family, working his summers with the railroads selling snacks and newspapers to travelers. His sense of business and sales were fostered at a young age, and he just didn't know it. Eventually, it was his love for drawing and cartoons that would drive him to start a business. After taking different risks and filing bankruptcy, he took another huge risk and moved to Hollywood with his brother, to start an animation studio. It was this move that would lead him to find success...and as the saying goes, the rest is history. Disney has built an unprecedented, synergistic empire that combines movies, tv, themeparks, music, books, and merchandise. Many have tried to replicate it's success, but none have come close. The Disney experience is an American past time, spanning generations, and a dream for most American children and families to witness.
Like Disney, I teach my students that the US needs more entrepreneurs to help invent our future, just as the host of great entrepreneurs did before us. I believe it were these past generations of entrepreneurs that created our economic prosperity that we have today. As a teacher of business, I teach my students about the free enterprise system and how innovation and entrepreneurship are key components to economic success.
My colleague, John Klipfell, writes, "An entrepreneur challenges the status quo and takes risks to solve problems and meets the wants and needs of society." Mr. Klipfell also talks to my students about a single marketplace and growing prosperity in developing countries equals OPPORTUNITY. In our International Business curriculum, we promote global thinking as a way to seize the opportunities the world offers you. I truly believe that our 21st century demands an entrepreneurial mindset in order to thrive in our future economy. As many of 70% of American adults have said they prefer to be self-employed and today's workers will change jobs at least 15 different times. I believe it is more important than ever for students to understand the concept of entrepreneurship and innovation to take them into the future.
It is my, as well as my students', interests in entrepreneurship and innovation, that brings me back to my essential question for travel. I wish to find some real, honest answers on how the Russian educational system fosters the sense of entrepreneurialism among its youth and if it supports additional programs to promote this thinking. I also wish to find out their sense of global business and their thoughts and contributions to the worldwide marketplace.