Practical Education: Are Our Kids Receiving Enough Real World Experience?

One of the most practical parts of my college education (and my entire education) was my student teaching. For six months, I gradually took over until I was completely teaching the class. It wasn’t quite the same as a real teaching job. However, it was definitely a good way to get some real world experience. School should prepare students for the job market. Thus, are our kids receiving enough practical education so they can be successful in the real world?

What Can I Use This For?

When teaching kids, it’s important to be able to have a purpose for everything we teach. As parents and teachers, we should be asking ourselves, what can this be used for when kids enter the job market? I can think about a college class I took where we had to analyze various movies…including a “Rambo” movie. I honestly can’t think of how analyzing “Rambo” benefited me. Perhaps, I would have been better off taking an auto shop class or a carpentry class. After all, I can’t change a tire and am completely incompetent when it comes to using power tools. The Guardian points out that the current generation is one of the most educated but lacks the skills to mend a hole in a shirt or put up a shelf. We have become a society that hires someone else to do these basic tasks. So how can we fix this?

Learning How to Think isn’t Enough

Perhaps, learning how to think is not enough. Rather than focusing on standardized tests so much, schools need to give students more practical application. Cooking is actually helpful and teaches children about fractions, measuring and multiplication. Students can learn how to double a recipe and see the relationship between �¼ and â�� cup. As kids get into the upper grades, money management should be a focus. Making a budget and learning about interest rates are all good ideas. I used to give my students real restaurant menus and a budget. They had to come up with what they could buy, including the tip with a set amount of money. In college, rather than only focusing on the craft of writing, I wish I would have learned more about marketing and publishing my writing (which is half of the battle). Finally, internships in both high school and college should be required.

What Some Schools are Doing Right

It appears that some high schools are doing a better job of preparing students for the real world. For instance, according to NBC News, in Michigan, “the Utica Center for Science and Industry uses technology to prepare students for automotive and military industry jobs.” The program aims to align students’ skills with employer needs. Students take electives in areas such as “multimedia, engineering or mechatronics” and also take part in activities where there isn’t one right answer. For me, giving kids the opportunity to create, rather than fill in a bubble (for the one right answer) is key. So far, the program is showing success.

Are We Using Our Degrees?

According to a Gallup poll, fifty-seven percent of American workers say “the type of work they do generally” does not require “a bachelor’s or a more advanced degree.” So, if a college degree isn’t helping the majority of Americans at their job, what is? Many jobs require a skill. Electricians and contractors have specific skills that allow them to complete their jobs. Whether or not students go to a four year school or not, I think it’s important for everyone to have a skill. After all, a Forbes article states that “half of college grads are working” at jobs that “don’t require a degree.” Clearly, being smart and qualified isn’t always enough to make it in the real world.

I’m going to encourage my kids to go to college and earn a degree. I’m also going to encourage them to think outside of the box and give them a practical education too. After all, you never know where life will take you.

More from Melissa:

Learning in a Bubble: Standardized Testing in Kindergarten is Too Much Too Soon
What Do Teachers Really Do After School?
Teacher Turnover: Why Do Educators Leave?

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