Cafeteria learning helps build entrepreneurial skills

Last Updated 15 July 2020, 12:24 IST

What makes a successful entrepreneur? Having the right technical knowledge and skills is not enough. An entrepreneur is as good as his or her creativity, innovative thinking, and problem-solving ability.

The key quality of an entrepreneur is the flexibility with which he or she approaches an idea. Now, to nurture and develop such skills, an innovative method of learning is foremost.

The traditional form of learning and education has its limitations and shortcomings, but the biggest concern with the conservative approach is that it treats everyone equally, without giving importance to individuality and uniqueness.

This is where cafeteria learning comes into play. For the new era of talented and eager minds, a new approach to learning is essential and cafeteria learning brings a new player in the game that changes the framework of the game being played and makes it more stimulating and action-packed for the learner. This game-changer is the choice.

Cafeteria learning is a method of learning which does not limit you to curriculum, books, lectures, and notes. The main objective of this learning is to introduce various routes of learning to reach the same destination, instead of following just one path. The experience in itself is exploratory and engaging, it allows the learner to construct, discover, absorb, process information and find meaning by themselves, with the help of their course of action, then just memorising content. Experiential learning such as cafeteria learning builds and augments entrepreneurial skills.

To understand how cafeteria learning is influential to management students, let us look at it from a different angle.

Experiential learning is like an exquisite dining experience with a three-course meal. It starts with an appetizer (gearing up for the activities), moving on to an entrée (performing the activities) and then finishing the meal with a delightful dessert (reflect and debrief).

Now, let us understand how this is related to developing efficient skills. When coming to class, instead of being welcomed by notes and presentations, what if you are indulged in an activity related to the topic of study for that day. You are explained what you will learn today and what methods you have at your disposal to choose from that will help you reach your ultimate goal of understanding the subject. You are geared up for what is about to come. You are now more adaptable, always ready to face new challenges and positive about new approaches.

The next step is to get involved in the activities designed to obtain knowledge. According to your preference you choose the learning activity you want to participate in and you move ahead in the experience creating your understanding of the subject. There are team activities, individual conquests and effective brainstorming that nurtures your idea-generating capabilities. The last but most important part of this learning is asking questions, reflecting on the method and sharing your experience with others, the debriefing part. This activity opens up your mind to learn from other's experiences, share yours and broaden your horizon of thought.

An entrepreneur does not necessarily have to be limited to someone who creates a start-up and builds a business of his own; it is about the attitude of building something new, understanding the importance of ideas and designs, and being adaptable to new situations and methods. Even a management student needs to develop these skill-sets to stand out from the crowd. Colleges offering courses like BBA and BBM have understood the importance of introducing such a learning model in their curriculum which provides an early introduction to meticulous brainstorming, instrumental teamwork and understanding the importance of meaningful design.

BBA as an undergraduate programme has started facilitating a flexible curriculum and the students are at liberty to choose their specialisations with their overall growth in mind. You can now learn about environmental management and corporate management, hand in hand, without taking up two different courses. This is the beauty of having a cafeteria curriculum in your undergraduate programme.

(The author is Director, SCMS Pune)

(Published 15 July 2020, 11:30 IST)

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