Fabienne Geuens (Thursday, 18 februari 2016)

Fabienne Geuens

I had an interview with Fabienne in her sweet home in that lovely village ‘s Herenelderen in Limburg (a region in Flanders-Belgium). 
Fabienne Geuens was a student of the teacher training department. For some years she became a teacher in her own class in a Primary School in Leopoldsburg. Later on, as a remedial teacher, she wanted to help her colleagues and gave extra training sessions. But she wanted to do more and so she became a trainer for teachers in an organization for Young Entrepreneurs, called Vlajo (Vlaamse Jonge Ondernemingen)
I met her as an expert in Entrepreneurship, because I became projectmanager of a projectclub of students in the UCLL-Teacher Training Department. The topic these 7 students wanted to explore was: ‘Talents of the Future’ with a focus on Entrepreneurship.

Guido: What is according to you Entrepreneurship and why should this item be more important in Education?
Fabienne: Entrepreneurship is about offering a product or service where you try to achieve this with the necessary self-direction and creativity. The latter is then more about the entrepreneurial spirit : taking the idea and have the skills and willpower to turn that concept into reality. You also devise scenarios and dare to stand back timely to change course where needed. In short, you keep on going despite setbacks. Teachers actually already do a lot about entrepreneurial spirit , but they should be more aware of it.
Vlajo is a member of JA Europe and they described the definition of entrepreneurial learning in the entrepreneurial pathway. Entrepreneurship has been formally included as a key competence for all learners, supporting personal development, active citizenship, social inclusion and work-readiness. It is relevant across the lifelong learning process, in all disciplines of learning and to all forms of education and training which contribute to an entrepreneurial spirit or behaviour, with or without a commercial objective. Entrepreneurship education seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to encourage entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings. In the end, it is all about creating value, either in social, cultural or economical context. Development of competence in entrepreneurship must be included as an integrated part of education at all levels.
Guido: In secondary schools pupils of art are setting up shops together with pupils of economic education. Is this what entrepreneurship really is?
Fabienne: The mini-enterprises are not the target but a way of working to help the students discover their own entrepreneurial skills and further develop them. It is not only about pretending to have a shop … It is not only intended for the economical educations, but it can also be done by other education as well. The entrepreneurial skills that students need in these projects can already be stimulated in other courses. More specific I am thinking to create more skilled teachers in the use of teaching methods , support independent work more often, broader evaluation. We try do this with Talent4event.

Guido: More important are the specific skills for entrepreneurship. How can these skills be supported and developed in primary in secondary education? 
Fabienne: We train the teachers through workshops. We hope that they implement this way of working in their practice throughout the year. We look at it from four angles that can mobilize the teacher to stimulate entrepreneurial skills or to paralyze them . These angles, particularly organization , evaluation , content and teaching style can result in actions for both the school , teachers and students. On the other hand, we can also invite the entrepreneurs into the classroom and ask them to give assignments to our students. At the same time these entrepreneurs can share their expertise with the students. 
Currently Vlajo is taking part in an international trial, more specific, the ICEE innovation cluster for entrepreneurship Education.The goal is to gain insight in reaching the European goal to let young people acquire a practical entrepreneurial experience before they leave school. The results are shown in 2017.
Guido: In higher education teachers and students start doing research in different ways. Is research also needed for entrepeneurship? How can this be integrated in the curriculum? Is that possible in primary and secondary education? 
Fabienne: Yes, definitely. Projects such as the Vlajo Droomfabriek , entrepreneurs suitcase of Cego or Studio Talentis already try to do this. . In these projects is the purpose that the children guide and maintain the process themselves and discover their entskills.
For example, children of a 3rd grade who create a ‘dream city’ and start thinking what they really could achieve. Some schools even get in touch with the city council and actually achieve certain things. Even in the kintergarten we stimulate the teams to work with an ‘entrepreneurial corner’ and teach the children dat they can learn by trying things. The teacher gets the chance to observe the children in a different way. We often receive positive response about these children who participated in our projects. It is certainly not our mission to change everyone into an entrepreneur, but to make the child as entrepreneurial as possible.
Guido: How does the project ‘Talents of the future’ matches with entrepreneurship?
Fabienne: The students themselves started very enterpreneurial. They had a clear objective to offer a service to the children of the 1st degree. 
After taking a setback when it went wrong, they restarted the project and even called in an expert of the field.

Guido: What does the idea of Liminality mean for you?
Fabienne: It about finding the balance between thinking out of the box and the realization of the idea. Trial and error is part of this and an entrepreneur can handle this. Failure is an option during the process and we of course often want the success rate to be as high as possible. It can be very difficult to release this thought and to deal with the unpredictability of the situation.