“I don’t like the term ‘real world.’
It is often used in sentences like ‘Every lesson in school should relate to the real world.’
Formulations like that make me think schools are like the Floating World of ancient Japan or the artificial world of the holodeck on some Star Trek spaceship.
Schools are the real world, just as much as slums or split-level suburban homes are.”
As soon as I saw this, I knew, as my husband hears frequently, I feel a blog post coming! I use the term “real world” a lot because I think it distinguishes it from a different time in people’s lives when they are sheltered and protected. I feel the real world makes people vulnerable and I need to prepare my students so that they can enter situations supplied with whatever tools and strategies necessary to keep them safe and independent.
I do not feel like a school situation is the “real world.” Parents, Teachers, and Administrators are able to manipulate the environment in different ways to help a student and this is not possible in the real world. I have worked hard at the beginning of the year to help my students succeed in different situations so they can use their confidence in trying more difficult assignments. There are also laws that protect children in schools that help them get accommodations and modifications to instruction if needed (IDEA and 504, for example). Administrators may use different discipline techniques to help students learn social skills necessary to get along with others. Special Education students are protected under special ed laws that enable them to continue with their education even if they are removed from a regular school environment.
It kind of reminds me of times I have seen football teams practice or play scrimmages and how they differ from real games. The real games are the ones that count. They count towards statistics, records, and championships but practice games and scrimmages do not. Practice games and scrimmages are a way to practice plays or move players to different positions and try them out. This is the time to explore different possibilities without it actually hurting statistics or records.
When a student causes minor problems in school, there are repercussions and this teaches a student how to be accountable for his actions. When a person gets in the “real world,” this student is usually of legal age and being accountable for his actions may involve money or even jail time. This does not usually happen at school age unless the student has broken a major law. I have seen students show violence in schools that will not be tolerated in the real world. Law enforcement will not care if this student has a disability or comes from a bad home life when protecting other citizens.
In school, if you misbehave, they send you to the office and pay the penalty, and then return to class. Unless you are expelled (and schools must have a good reason), you return to class. In the workplace (the real world), employers don’t tolerate people who won’t do their job. Employers want someone who will show up for work regularly, get the job done, as well as get along with other workers. There are too many people who need a job and want that position if you don’t follow the employer’s policies. If you can’t do the job for some reason, they can fire you.
In school, the system makes sure that students get fed. There are free and reduced lunch programs to feed children. If a student does not have lunch or money continuously, someone is notified about this problem (social worker, DSS etc.) In the real world, many people go to work hungry and go home hungry. Many people work so that they can pay bills and buy food.
Even when I went to college and lived on campus, I do not consider that the real world. I paid tuition and room and board as well as books but those were my major expenses. Many other students had their education paid for by their parents. When I graduated and got my first apartment, I never realized how much money was needed for deposits as well as electric, water, and phone bills. No one prepared me for these real world situation.
So, I guess I really don’t feel that school is the real world. And yes, I do feel that my lessons should be related to the real world so I can prepare my students for things that they may face. I might not be able to cover all of the situations they may face, but I hope that I give them enough tools and information so they can go find the answers they need.
What do you think? Is school the real world or not?
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Summer Storm over Kuala Lumpur'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/95572727@N00/521001746 by: Trey Ratcliff