Breaking the Waves: Routines and Rituals in Entrepreneurship Education

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Learning is related to the environment created for the learning experience. This learning environment is often highly routinized and involves a certain social structure but in entrepreneurship education such routinization and structure may actually counteract the learning goals. The purpose of this paper is therefore to investigate how classroom routines and rituals impact on entrepreneurship education in order to problematize how existing classroom environments may hinder critical learning experiences from taking place.
Previously, rituals have predominantly been examined with an emphasis on religious aspects, structures and values of society. Rituals are actions that we undertake with a particular observance, which makes them special and creates structures of order, providing a feeling of security through familiarity. Rituals further help create social relationships and they may even have an ‘identity shaping dimension in that they establish order by creating social feelings ensuring unity through emotional and symbolic dimensions’. Many rituals used in the classroom originate from behaviourism but in entrepreneurship education we often replace these with new ones.
The paper builds on extensive insight from six cohorts of students at two Scandinavian universities over a four-year period (2012-2015). The data was procured using an experiential-explorative research approach in which the researchers were personally involved in reflective processes as co-learners.
The findings illustrate how educators can use rituals actively to change how students learn. However, students are very wary of embracing new structures and rituals, indeed, some feel so comfortable with the old rituals that they would prefer not to change from the old way of just being receivers of knowledge to becoming co-creators of the learning situation. It is therefore important to exchange existing rituals with new ones that enhance the feeling of safety and involve the students in creating the change. This is achieved through scaffolding and setting up ritual markers, which are continuously repeated.
We describe rituals as both a scaffold and a marker. The scaffold approach results in less unease with the introduction of new ways of doing things. Ritualization markers used to emphasize how the learning environment functions, decouple existing routines and create new rituals, further help students feel safe. If the ritual room is installed properly then it can provide a safe space for experimentation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustry and Higher Education
Volume31
Issue2
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
ISSN0950-4222
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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