What is career learning? I recently posted an article about career & technical education and how it’s not an ‘alternative’ route for learners — it is the only route. Check it out here. Basically the point of school is to prepare students for life post high school or higher education, all leading to hopefully a career.
Therefore, learning in school prepares students for careers.
Lawyers, doctors, mechanics, contractors, teachers, and fire fighters, all require knowledge and skill obtained through some sort of training. True the extent of which varies, yet individualizing the career completely. School — should prepare students for this, beginning in 9th grade.
If your school is in a rural area, what surrounds you that people who live in that community need and generates employment?
Let’s say farming is one of the more popular answers.
Why wouldn’t a sustainable agriculture program take place in the school? Students can learn from those with experience as to the proper technique, timing, secrets, and knowledge needed to participate in the existing community.
Perhaps harvests can be processed into something prepared for meals at the school site, therefore requiring a culinary department, and even a hospitality and management department which can serve it and run the business end of it.
These departments can drive instruction in your school. You’d increase engagement in your school site tremendously. You’d offer value to learning as it would be intrinsic to the neighborhoods, serving better and healthier foods in the school all the while preparing students for careers based on their interests. Perhaps adding the sustainable side would treat the land better, offer healthier choices, and create a better option for nutrition for students as well.
If you are in a rural school, what about forestry? What about manufacturing? Blacksmithing? Welding? Carpentry? Mechanical Engineering? What about a veterinarian program? Entrepreneurial program? Civil Engineering? Diesel Mechanics? Or even Mechatronics?
If your school is rural, make all of the learning about what students are interested in pursuing post high school in that community — and allow self exploration in discovering it.
Measure the learning, which is literally driven by the student, and classes like English, Math, Science, and Social Studies, all support the process that a student experiences via the their own selection.
In 9th grade, a student may be interested in milling wood at the lumber yard. They learn in a maker space type class in 9th grade how to use lots of tools safely. Additionally, they learn to research in English. Learn about different plants native to certain areas in the state, and how to maintain the environment responsibly. They learn from past methods based on the times and varied purposes in history class. They learn how to know how many trees are needed in the area to maintain proper treatment of the ozone, and how to monitor these levels based on activity in math class.
Make the student select how they want to display their knowledge, by having them apply it directly towards inquiry around their topic of interest.
Any student will learn successfully, if they knew the purpose of their success, truly impacted themself immediately upon graduation. A
Teach them 21st century skills during this process.
Put them into internships or apprenticeships in high school, and get them working and going to school as well.
The return on investment for both sides is intense!
If you want to innovate, connect learning to careers, and make the process about figuring out why students may want to learn about it and how they can go about applying that towards actually doing it.