This example of artisan entrepreneurship education comes from the Polish partner organisation, Lifelong Learning Centre EST. The initiative was launched in 2014 and is expected to continue for at least two years. It involves young unemployed people from the region of Małopolska who have some basic skills in woodworking acquired either in vocational school or through informal learning. The initiative has the following aims in view:
- to provide social space for collaborative practice-based learning of woodwork renovation skills
- to instil appreciation of traditional craftsmanship among young people with particular focus on its artistic value
- to help them venture into the artisan field which opens entrepreneurial and employment opportunities
- to show concrete steps needed to “take things into their own hands”, which is the essence of entrepreneurship
- to make their skills and qualifications transparent/recognised
Collaborative learning is at the core of all the activities as the participants are expected to come up with initiative in a common learning space co-created by them and benefit from the exchange of their complementary competences. The whole process of engaging the participants has been divided into four modules planned as follows.
MODULE 1: CREATION OF THE WORKSHOP ENVIRONMENT
First the participants need to organise their collaborative learning environment. They have been given two rooms which require adaptation work to make them fully operational in the new context:
- Former library of the centre to be reorganised as a common room: 2 tables, 1 desk, 8 chairs, 1 cabinet, self-catering facilities, 4 computers, projector, printer, Xerox, Wi-Fi
- Former tile workshop to be newly equipped for wood renovation workshop: empty, all equipment and furniture removed
It is much easier to launch a new initiative in a space already properly designed for the particular field of learning activities. Still an involvement of young people in the design and creation of the environment mobilises their enthusiasm and collaboration.
The undertaken activities proceed from relatively easier tasks in the common room to more advanced assignments in the wood renovation workshop. At all stages the involvement of the young people is on voluntary basis and rely on their collaborative efforts.
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MODULE 2: LEARNING THE VALUE OF RESTORATION
The organisation of the learning space is not an aim in itself, it rather serves the purpose of facilitating the acquisition of certain attitudes, knowledge and skills by the young participants. The basic difficulty here lies in grasping the value of antique objects by the young people who may view them initially as something of the past, rather to be removed or covered with “plastic” than restored to their original beauty. This segment of the initiative engages with this challenge and aims at helping the young people perceive the value of historical objects in the landscape of modernity.
The planned activities involve the young people in a range of assignments in the common room, during explorations of historical cities and on-line search for exemplary renovation cases. They are run alongside practical tasks in the workshop to ensure the participants’ constant awareness of the broader historical, cultural and aesthetic context of their work.
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MODULE 3: MASTERING WOODWORK RENOVATION TECHNIQUES
The workshop assignments involve the participants in sample renovation tasks on authentic wooden objects of historical value. They are preceded by a careful analysis of these objects to ensure the participants’ knowledge of their genesis and subsequent history up to the present, especially on all the transformations and restorations occurred previously. The analysis is accompanied by a careful consideration of the technical and scientific materials and diseases that have affected the durability of the object in focus. This collaborative process of investigation opens a way to practical tasks in the workshop room. Obviously the minimum access requirements include motivation to work in this field, possession of good manual skills and precision as well as basic abilities in using the working tools/materials. The module involves the participants in the following activities.
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MODULE 4: ENTREPRENEURIAL INITIATIVES
The closing module encourages the participants to take the initiative in their own hands and exploit the acquired competences for entrepreneurial initiatives. It aims at helping the young people realise the potential of an active, enterprising attitude to life and career. The participants who have already gained experience in the labour market share it with those who have never had such an opportunity. Similarly, the team building capitalises on the involvement of members with more entrepreneurial attitudes, eager to venture into business and seize emerging opportunities, taking the lead in the group.
The appropriate entrepreneurship environment is co-created by the young participants which encourages initiative and supports collaborative search for business/employment opportunities and planning effective scenarios of reaching the goals. These goals and expectations must be realistic in view of the skills level of the participants and the challenges of the labour market. Turning ideas into successful initiatives takes time and patience and all small steps towards setting-up an enterprise or gaining full time employment need to be recognised and appreciated to boost motivation of the participants. The choice of activities in this module is firmly rooted in experiential learning through hands on projects in the process of engaging in a real life venture.
More: module 4