A Unique Pedagogy for SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
I ask myself, “What constitutes elements of a good learning model and what relevance does theoretical knowledge hold while addressing real world problems.” Learning can happen in various ways and through various models. Through its social start up fellowship, the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) India uses an integrated model of learning to breed a class of social leaders who gain learnings by ‘doing’, reflecting on the results and refining their approach in case it falls short of achieving desired results. These fellows usually have a social enterprise that is in the idea stage and SSE India serves as a good medium to provide guidance to them on critical aspects of making their enterprise sustainable. SSE India conducts expert and witness sessions, action learning sessions, knowledge forums, field visits and provides mentoring support to prepare these fellows to further their enterprise’s reach, efforts and work. The diversity of the fellows at SSE India makes for an interesting learning space as people with ages from 18 to 70, people with bare minimum education to people with PhDs, and people working to provide affordable primary health services to people working to increase livelihoods of farmers, all form a part of a common learning space.
Expert and witness sessions at SSE India bring on board the best of the industry to talk about prevalent topics, and share insights that shape the entrepreneurs’ all round abilities. This is different from the traditional method of teaching, and involves sharing of stories—personal and professional experiences—from industry practitioners and fellow entrepreneurs alike. The learning model also allows for assigning a mentor—a professional, to each fellow who becomes a constant source of guidance through the ninemonth fellowship programme.
Action learning forms a key pillar of the learning methodology at SSE India and involves a group of individuals whose aim is to find solutions to a contextual issue and they do so by taking action. Action learning sets assume importance especially for social entrepreneurs as the challenges they are trying to address are dynamic, on occasion unstructured in nature and more often than not intermingled with policy implementation shortages. Action learning helps the entrepreneurs’ abilities to realise the outcomes which they are aiming to achieve through their enterprise—value creation in society in terms of employment, income, empowerment, innovation, which are also dynamic in nature. At the core of action learning, lies an application-based model of learning, something that is not widely deployed in the Indian education system. Schools and universities are a great place to acquire knowledge and grooming; however, development of oneself, leadership qualities, forethought is difficult to come by in the four walls of a classroom. These are best learnt by stepping out to remedy real world problems, being exposed to vulnerabilities of a diverse group of individuals and working together to enhance each other’s competencies.
At School for Social Entrepreneurs India, the focus is on the individual—the social entrepreneur—who through his/ her enterprise is attempting to tackle social problems of the country. In addition to building entrepreneurial zeal in the social entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow, the learning pedagogy builds practical capabilities, polishes intuitive capacities, and enhances problem solving skills, all of which become lifelong learnings for the individuals.