Perspectives on Entrepreneurial Learning in the Early Years of Education.

Ehrlin, A.
Insulander, E.
Sandberg, A.
Journal of Education and Human Development 4(3), 40-58.


In 2009, the Swedish government decided that entrepreneurial skills of children and young people were to be promoted throughout the entire public school system, from preschools to higher education. On this basis, entrepreneurial learning is a fairly new concept in Swedish preschools. The point of departure of the study is a basic assumption that the implementation of requirements and initiatives in the preschool curriculum is conditional on the meaning ascribed to them by the practitioners involved. The purpose of this study is therefore to investigate understandings of entrepreneurial learning among pre- and primary school teachers in Swedish preschools and schools in order to expound existing knowledge about how preschool teachers translate and realise entrepreneurial learning in practice.


Overall, the study indicates that the understandings of entrepreneurial learning are conditional on the context in which the teachers work. The findings of the study are divided into three analytical categories arising from the practitioners' perceptions of the concept. The first category (entrepreneurial learning as entrepreneurship) shows how the teachers try to promote the children's entrepreneurial skills by facilitating collaborative activities aimed at 'real' things. This is exemplified by a musical to which parents and others are invited. The second category (entrepreneurial learning as science and technology) derives from a perception of entrepreneurial learning as something innovative. Here the study shows how the practitioners involved challenge the children to go into the role of an inventor, and this encourages the children to become more independent in their decision-making, rather than imitating their peers. Finally, the third category (entrepreneurial learning as personal development) shows that entrepreneurial processes are organised to stimulate the children's creativity, imagination, self-esteem and social skills. This development seems to be stimulated through drama exercises in which children learn to stand in front of an audience and act.



The article was designed as an ethnographic study. Data was collected using a 'stimulated recall' approach, in which the point of departure for the interviews conducted was video footage of the informants' own practices. This methodology invites the informants to express their perceptions and understandings of the phenomenon explored. Data was collected in Sweden in 2014 and involved practitioners and children from preschools and schools. The data basis consists of empirical data from three preschools with children aged 3-5 years and two primary schools with children from a Swedish preschool-class to grade 3. The data collection was supplemented by semi-structured interviews, in which the informants were asked to relate to a number of open-ended questions about entrepreneurial learning. In addition, the informants were presented with video footage of their own practices. This enabled the researchers to challenge the informants' perceptions of specific practice situations. The data basis was studied individually by the authors of the article, and this led to the construction of the presented analytical categories.


Ehrlin, A., Insulander, E. & Sandberg, A. (2015). Perspectives on Entrepreneurial Learning in the Early Years of Education. Journal of Education and Human Development 4(3), 40-58.

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