By Alan Graner
When I returned to teaching as a long-term sub after 15 years in the business world I was shocked at what I found. It was as if I were suddenly thrust into The World That Time Forgot.
No, the schools hadn’t changed; I had.
The teachers were the same—hardworking and dedicated to their students. However, I realized much of what they taught had little relevance in the real world.
Take math, for example. How many of you non-scientist/engineers have ever used geometry or algebra since you left school?
Instead, why not teach finance? You know, practical stuff like how to balance a checkbook, how to create a budget, how to figure out if you’re better off buying a house or renting, how to save enough to live after a layoff.
In English classes, instead of teaching students to contrast and compare some story character, how about teaching them how to write a resume; a coherent cover letter, business memo or email; how to give a persuasive talk.
In history, instead of memorizing dates, teach students to question and analyze history and how they would apply what they learned to today’s problems.
In general, how about teaching students social skills they can use in the workplace such as how to network. How to ask for a raise/promotion. How to develop and present new ideas. How to survive office politics.
Why not throw in some practical vocational classes for students who’ll ever go to college? Subjects such as mechanics or coding or cooking or entrepreneurship.
In short, why not teach students stuff they’ll actually USE in the real world to get ahead and succeed?
I’ll give you three reasons why not:
- The education system has no desire to change.
- There isn’t money to fund such a change.
- Most teachers, God bless ‘em, have little or no practical experience in the real world.
Unfortunately, business as usual isn’t working. Talk to HR professionals and they’ll explain how they must shuffle through hundreds of resumes to find people qualified to fill entry level jobs.
On the other end there are lots of six-figure positions that go unfilled because, again, HR can’t find qualified applicants.
We’re failing our sons and daughters.
It’s time for a change.