O2 will be running 28 UK events titled Think Big School, pushing 3,000 youngsters through two days of training so they can learn to write code and pitch business ideas like a skinny-tie-and-sneakers-wearing Shoreditch type.
The first Think Big School has kicked off in London, but the two-day events, which are run in conjunction with Young Enterprise, are planned for half a dozen cities across the UK. Schoolkids aged 14 to 18 who attend get one day to hone their "entrepreneurial skills" followed by a history lesson about the interwebs and enough coding to pitch their big idea to a panel of judges.
We’re told that O2 will be "taking young people out of school to learn real world skills", showing the teenagers how to "create and evaluate a business idea" rather than learning stuffy old arithmetic and geography and packing their heads with knowledge they'll "become the active creators of the digital economy".
The events are described as a "Scout camp for the 21st century", rather ignoring the fact that Scout camps are still happening in the 21st century. But young 'uns attending a bona fide Scout camp will be learning pointless stuff like how to build electric circuits (Explorer, Electronics) or integrate software packages (Scouts, Information Technology) as well as the traditional tents and first aid, while O2 will be teaching them more useful things:
"Learning how to make a fire and how to sew on a button replaced with entrepreneurial thinking," explains the breathless press release, "coding and web skills to prepare today’s young people for the world of work".
The 28 events being held by O2 this year will teach 3,000 youngsters how to pitch business ideas to a judging panel, with the aid of Make Things Do Stuff, the Mozilla, NESTA and Nominet Foundation-backed digital skills initiative. Meanwhile, the UK Scouting organisation will teach 400,000 UK kids how to actually do stuff, without government handouts or subsidised accommodation.
The Young Enterprise charity runs one-day events in schools, but also helps set up longer projects and generally seems effective at conveying to children how business works, but we can't help thinking that O2's focus on coding and pitching to judges has more to do with what's trendy around Silicon Roundabout than helping kids find work in the next decade. ®
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