Reshaping Education in America: Careers and Context


I think what is shockingly absent from any education I’ve ever received, from some fine educational institutions, is any mention of careers and context–why you’re learning, what live after school will look like, the fact that you’ll have to find a job, what kinds of jobs and careers are out there, etc.  Schools leave that totally up to parents. And our schools are so liberal arts oriented–you take so many English and arts etc classes–where are the business, economics, etc classes in junior high, high school, in the required courses in college???  Why was I required to take all these English classes, sociology classes, etc, but not one single econ or business class in undergrad?

After you graduate you learn, oh wait, why didn’t any teacher I ever had even hint at how the real world works?  And most schools I have ever been to are so liberally biased that in the absence of any clues from parents, neighbors, or friends, all I ever got it in my head to do was oh, art and English.  Did I, my parents, or friends know anyone who was a doctor, lawyer, computer scientist?  No.  It’s totally the rationale of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  If you don’t have parents, friends, and neighbors who clue you in to the wider world of career options, who invite you to the party, you may be out of luck, because for the most part teachers won’t.

So, I think schools should do a much better job at alerting kids to job trends, career options, etc.  Parents and teachers should give kids goals and options, not just say, “Get good grades,” “do your homework,” and then let the hippie schools brainwash the kids into thinking just English and art will lead to happy and fulfilling careers, because that’s just not the way the world works!!!!!

It’s like nature and nurture–kids’ understandings of how the world and business and careers work needs to be nurtured by teachers in school, not just parents–the average American parent probably doesn’t know much either–it’s sad to let Walmart employee kids aspire to work at 7-11, middle class kids just want to be “writers” “artists” and “poets” while upper middle class kids are the only ones told that they could do any career they want including medicine, law, banking, business consulting, etc.

I’m not saying any one thing is better than the other but our educational system is so biased towards English and art as these sort of mushy defaults.  Yeah, who the heck wouldn’t want to do English and art all day but that’s just not the reality of the job market, now, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or ever.  It’s all about giving kids a more *fair and balanced* picture of careers that are possible.
And without exposing kids to career options early on in schools, and if they don’t have good career guidance from parents, kids are more susceptible to fall prey to all sorts of ideas about what is “cool or not cool” in life from bad role models (punk rock, Kurt Cobain, musicians, actors, etc) who portray life as an event where you can play and party all day, emote that suits suck, businesses suck, you have to stick it to the “man,” etc.  Maybe those were ideas more in the 1980s and 1990s, but still…there’s always been an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism, anti-career, anti-money, anti-business in popular music etc, that kids can fall for to the detriment of pursuing more interesting things in life.
Now I’m not saying these sentiments are bad per se in moderation, as dissenting voices and alternate viewpoints, but for kids without good guidance from parents and teachers, these messages can take on too large of a role in their consciousness and how they interpret the world and in how they make plans for their future.

read The Big Lie About the ‘Life of the Mind’ and Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go by Thomas H. Benton in The Chronicle of Higher Education for more analysis.


One Response

  1. You are absolutely correct. Many times have I come across jobs asking for a Bachelor’s degree with 6 units of Accounting/Business, but what about my 8 units of social sciences?

    Regardless I think schools need to go back to the vocational/future farmers of america,etc. type tracks. High school should gear towards preparing students for some type of “certificate” program that would allow them to qualified to some specified vocation even if that vocation/career requires college.

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