Today an op-ed article was posted in the L.A. Times regarding “False classes” being given to students in Los Angeles, Compton, and Oakland school districts. Students were given classes where nothing was actually taught. One main reason given by district administrators was scheduling problems. The problem is such a concern that Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) has proposed legislation (AB 1012) to ban the practice.
This writer feels that many of the classes taught in our schools are not preparing our children for the real world. Many students leaving high school (and college/university also) are not able to successfully complete a job application and/or have no skills to compete in the global job market.
It’s amazing how most schools don’t take advantage of everyday opportunities to connect learning with real life situations. For example, math students could learn valuable lessons by working with their parents/guardians in helping understanding, creating, and monitoring components of the monthly home budget, including collecting, organizing, and tabulating expenses of all household members, by using receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements.
Students in English classes could collect, organize, and document all of the junk mail that comes into the home. They could read the mailers, and respond by calling and getting more information from customer service representatives. Because sometimes there are valuable opportunities in that junk mail pile. Cooking, cleaning, repairs, etc. are opportunities for learning if properly included in the instruction & curriculum portion of education. It’s as though “home chores” are a thing of the past….but way before small learning communities, academies, and the internet, there were scores of school aged children who gained valuable skills from activities they learned at home. But that type of innovation in today’s world takes the courage of school systems to think outside the box – and also value parents/guardians, and other community members as true and equal partners in education.
But some schools/districts are starting to expose middle school students to classes, programs, and services that teach them a marketable skill prior to leaving high school. I remember when I was in Junior High School (now called middle school) I learned how to make things in wood shop, metal shop, electric shop, and also used specialized rulers in drafting class. I felt empowered that I actually knew how to make useful products like spice racks in wood shop that my mom used for many years, weight lifting benches in metal shop, and working transistor radios in electric shop. It was very educational and fun!
Yes as a society America needs to get back to teaching students how to gain valuable and marketable skills; not just in technology, but in tangible everyday areas. Our future depends on it!