Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Does Business Education Keep You in a Box?

Last week, I posted a rant about the stupid meme that pits entrepreneurship against education, as if young people are supposed to choose one or the other, but not both. I called it Young Entrepreneurs: They are Lying to You.

But I like paradox, and I like uncertainty, and I also like to remember that you could argue that education—especially business education—teaches people how to do what their elders did. It teaches them to color inside the lines. It teaches them to think inside the box.

On the other hand, you have to know what you’re rejecting to reject it. People who learned the classics are better positioned to reinvent them with something new.

Or are they? What do you think?

  • Karen Espley

    I’m biased – I’m educated and believe in education and on-going self development through learning. If you have enough nous, then education can help spark other ideas (once you’ve finished colouring in between the lines). I think it’s taking on board the wisdom of others (or rejecting it – not all the stuff you learn is right) and applying your own critical thought to it. And someone else’s perspective may just set in train a whole new direction for you. Slavishly following what you’ve learned without critical evaluation can be dangerous. In theory a university education teaches you to be critical. It did in my day back before computers existed in anything other than punch cards :-). I was just having this discussion with someone who is reading the thesis I wrote in *coughs* 1984/85. A large proportion of my research was justifying why I was doing the research I was doing and critically challenging the theoretical models behind it so as to justify my methodology and analysis.
    So, yes, I do think the two can exist side by side. And I think they should.

    • Thanks Karen, and I’m with you: “Slavishly following what you’re learned without critical evaluation can be dangerous.” Well said. And that’s what synthesizes the value of education with the nay-sayers too.

    • tina`marie

      Well said Karen! I agree with you 100%. Another way to look at the value of a conventional business education is that it provides the historical foundation for how business has been conducted and has evolved over the last century. Of which enlightens us with a perspective in seeing the advantages of being able to conduct business with the technology we have today, how much easier and more accurate it makes the everyday tasks that need to be done to run a successful business. If one is not aware of how things were done in the past, there can be no appreciation for the amazing advances that have been made so far. Nor will there exist an appreciation for all the entrepreneurs that made it happen.

It's ironic; I'm all for education, but it's also true that with business education, it's often about teaching how we've always done things—not innovation.