“Create realistic content…come up with real-world challenges… and show learners the consequences”.Jackie Van Nice
Let’s be honest, in all our schools the students learn about theories, models, and philosophies. We all know that these concepts are of course extremely important in the development of students. However, sometimes students need a little more than just theories. They need to experience how these concepts and ideas work in practice in the real world.
Imagine you are trying to learn how to ride a bicycle from just reading a book and attending theory classes. Everything sounds like pure logic, you need to adjust your balance so you don’t fall off, regulate your speed so you don’t go too fast, and steer to go around an object in the way. So why do we crash the first time we ride a bicycle for real? We read the book, attended the classes, and even took an exam. Simply, we didn’t have any real experience.
That is why it is important to expose students to many real-world—or as close as possible to real-world—scenarios. Business Studies is possibly one of the best subjects to create such exposure for students. I am a Business Studies teacher at Maple Leaf Kingsley International School and lucky enough to have worked in the corporate world for around 30 years before moving to be a teacher. Therefore, I had plenty of exposure to the highs, lows, and issues that happen in the business world—the real business world.
In our Business Studies class, alongside the theory, students create their own business. They go through the process of creating an organisation chart, deciding on production methods, recruiting employees, developing a marketing strategy, and of course competing against their competitors. This makes the analysis the most effective ways of communicating with each other in a business, making joint decisions on different marketing segments, controlling the business finance, and creating strategic competitive advantages so that their businesses grow. The type of businesses that they create range from large multinational companies, medium-sized businesses, and sole traders. There has been a supermarket, giant oil refineries, cake shops, biochemical corporations, and small cake shops. Some competing against each other, some building trade relationships and merging with each other.
Why do we do this……Because you can’t avoid being involved in the business world. If you are planning on being involved in sports after you graduate university, you need to be aware of the financial decisions, sponsorship, and managing a squad of athletes. If the student is very artistic, they have the opportunity to create new products, trade show displays, and other marketing materials. If you are a people person, then you learn how to select the right person for the right job at the right time.
One of the activities students really enjoy is when you present them with a real-world dilemma. Examples to include is questions like should they advertise their products and services in a newspaper, on a billboard, or on-line? By providing the students with a budget, they have to decide which advertising platform would be the most effective. Inthereallifesituationthatweallfacenow, they learn how to make business decisions during a crisis. Examples include, do their employees come to work or work on-line from home? Do they redesign their products and start making face masks? How to reach out and communicate with their customers? Sometimes they make the right decisions and remain competitive – sometimes they make the wrong decision and their competitor gets the strategic advantage. It is fascinating to see them have that “Eureka” moment when they suddenly realise what they learnt in class actually works. They learn from these experiences how to balance the finances, regulate their growth, and steer their businesses to success. Just like riding a bicycle!
Supporting all this, once a year, the business studies department holds a business week. The business week is an opportunity for students to put these skills to use. For the 2021 academic year, Maple Leaf Business Studies department is planning on inviting leading entrepreneurs, strategy experts, and business leaders to speak at the school. The idea is to make the students aware of how many different possibilities and pathways there are to being successful. Meeting and interacting with real successful people helps the students figure out what career paths interest them!
Remember, business is in everything!
Article written by Kingsley’s Business Studies teacher Mr. Mark Smith.