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Johannes Linder is changing the way children are taught inside and out of the classroom in order to inspire and institutionalize social entrepreneurship as a means to achieve effective citizenship for students.
The Austrian education system unequally supports children raised in families of disadvantaged social standing. Only one third of Austrian students attend High school (=Gymnasium). The remaining two thirds of Austrian students, who are often raised in low income or migrant families, attend occupational schools such as Handelsakademie and Handelsschule and rarely have the capacity to seek higher education. Teachers lack creative approaches and are unaware and disinterested in the consequences of these top-down methods for teaching. Many teenagers loose interest in learning new concepts, which limits their knowledge intake and ability to recognize their own capacities to change the status quo.
Johannes’ creative materials are reaching about 20,000 students every year and are used in three to eight hours of the curriculum each week.
He has trained a total of 400 teachers and 2,700 business teachers in Austria as well as instructors in ten South East European countries.
Each year, 2,500 students participate in competitions, which encourage young people to combine their entrepreneurial thinking with self-driven action – Two third of them turned their ideas into reality.
Johannes believes that entrepreneurship education is indispensable for empowering students to become active citizens. The earlier these young people are given the space to develop their own initiatives, the more they are able to define themselves personally and professionally. Johannes developed a set of strategies which helps him to include entrepreneurship education in the regular school curriculums. He offers regular entrepreneurship competitions, workshops, debate programs for students and trains teachers domestically and Europe-wide to carry on his idea.
Johannes’ strategy is to spread his idea internationally.
He has already been approached by countries in CEE, in addition to Germany and France, with requests to introduce his methods and mobilize the necessary resources.
He has worked with ministries and government officials all over the region. Furthermore, he has the methodic lead within the EU-project “Youth Start”, where he is developing an innovative, transferable and scalable program for practical entrepreneurial experience at school, which will be tested in field trials in Austria, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia. The “Youth Start Entrepreneurial Challenge Program” is also planned to be applied in Bulgaria and outside of Europe.
During his studies in business pedagogy, he was increasingly astonished by the fact that facilitating student led ideas and entrepreneurial creativity were completely neglected in business administration curricula. He decided to dedicate his life to becoming a teacher in order to inspire widespread participation in and innovation throughout society. He realized that this meant that he had to base his approach on a philosophy of education as an instrument of liberation, not assimilation. In this pilot he understood that he had to change not only the curricula, but also provide new teaching tools and textbooks to advance full and active citizenship. Johannes wanted schools to become pioneers in effective citizenship and changemaking.