10 June 2014

The Claims We Make About "The Real World"

I remember a strategy the teachers in my elementary school all seemed to use when they felt like we were slacking on effort or gripping about the difficulty of some piece of content.

TEACHER 1: (to the class) One moment please, Mr. Smith needs to talk to me about something
The two teachers speak quietly by the door about something the students usually can't pick up.
TEACHER 1:  (to the other teacher, but loud enough for everyone to hear) You know, Mr. Smith, we're working on our long division right now, and a lot of my students seem to think it will be okay if they don't ever master this. Do you think that will work out next year?
TEACHER 2: (with the same inflection as the last question) Oh, no! That won't fly at all in 5th grade! You know, 4th graders, I've been hearing a lot about your, and I think there are a few of you that aren't gonna make it next year. In fact, I think maybe some of you would be better off getting held back... Ya'll are gonna be in for a surprise.
The students used to doing well, who were probably not the ones he was really referring to, all stress out for the rest of the day and into the evening about potentially repeating the 4th grade.

We do the same thing to our high schoolers, too, right? "That won't work in the real world..." I've the pleasure working with EdPlus and Pathways to Prosperity this week designing project based learning curricula resources for our classrooms next year, so the real world is high on my mind. Perhaps the best part of the program is the full day I'll be spending at Ameren headquarters on Tuesday, one-on-one rotating through with representatives from every department. The goal of Tuesday is to get an idea best what the real world really means in 2014.

Do teachers do this because they KNOW its true, or are they trying to make a point out of good intention?

Here's a list of things I'm planning on asking the Ameren workers I'm with on Tuesday that might be either wrong, or at least misrepresented -

"You need a scientific calculator because your smartphone isn't going to be able to do enough in a real job.""What are you going to do when the technology isn't there anymore to fall back on?""You can't NOT do fractions - fractions are in the real world.""You can either go to college or work at McDonald's.""You have to memorize this so you don't have to look it up at your job.""If you want a job that supports a good lifestyle, you're going to need a college degree.""Everyone uses math."
"Everyone writes" "You MUST show your work in a certain way, or else I'll take off points. Your boss is going to expect your work to be how he or she wants it!"

I'll give you a report back later this week!

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Thanks for sharing!