Lessons Learned?

Lessons Learned?

Jess Walter, writer

Being out in the real world is very different than a high school setting.  No, people don’t hold your hand and guide you step by step.  Yes, it is hard at times, and you’re going to struggle, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.  It is, however, extremely different then high school and I, as a working student, recently realized I was not prepared properly for a job.  There was much that high school education neglected to teach me.

I have been in high school for six years, and in five short months, I will be gone forever and never be a student at Redbank Valley again.  So, as a student, I do want to make my time here worthwhile.  I want to learn lessons that benefit me in the real world.  I’m not talking about memorizing facts the night before a test and then forgetting them a few days later.  I do not want to come to school eight hours a day for 180 days and take nothing from it.  I’ve spent countless hours in school learning curriculum that is irrelevant to me.

I want hands on learning experiences.  Why can’t there be a class where we go to a nursing home for an hour a day and do something there?  Not necessarily to learn how to take care of the elderly, but to be put in a real-life situation.  I understand high school can teach you many things other than the curriculum, such as how to balance many assignments at one time or how to problem solve, but there is much more that could be added to the high school classrooms that would benefit students who are planning on entering the workforce at some point.  What about learning to balance a checkbook and how to handle customers?

It would be highly beneficial for our school to start a program where students can experience different occupations.  A career-oriented class where students could job shadow many people from different occupations throughout the year would be very educational.   Students would gain a clear understanding of what many jobs are like, and it will be easier to decide  what we want to do after graduation.  Whether we are going to college for a certain major or entering the workforce, we will have a good perception of what the occupation will be like before we apply for a job or spend thousands of dollars training for a career only to find it doesn’t suit our personality.  I understand there is Graduation Project where we had the opportunity to job shadow, but many of us often change our minds about what we want to do in the three years it takes to complete the Graduation Project.  Even when we do job shadow, we sometimes don’t like the occupation and need opportunities to shadow more careers.

More student involvement at Tuesday’s Senior Meetings would be helpful, too.   The senior meetings need to focus more on students who plan on entering the workforce, especially the ones who don’t know exactly what type of work they would like to do.  I know it’s the first year for Senior Meetings, but I feel the meetings have more potential and could be beneficial for all seniors, not just college bound students.

 Did you know that Redbank has a co-op program?  I was not even aware that there was a co-op program available to Redbank students until I started writing this article.  Why didn’t I know?  How can a senior NOT know about this opportunity?  I wish someone would have made that option clearer for me at the beginning of the school year because I knew I was going to be entering the work force immediately after graduation…and even during my senior year.  Co-op would have been a perfect option for me, rather than filling my schedule with a bunch of electives that won’t serve me as well as work experience.  (No offense to Journalism and TheBark!)

I recently started a job at Walmart, and I have learned so much in just the first  month of my employment.  By just being put into a cashier position, I have learned how to multi-task and carry on conversations with people as quickly and kindly as possible.  Why can’t that be incorporated in a speech class?  I’m not talking about a formal speech where you recite your notes word for word.  I’m talking about casual-toned conversations–making small talk and learning to greet people and introduce yourself.  Some people struggle with that in public.  I wish there was a class that could have given me strategies to make conversation with customers and new co-workers.  Sometimes I also have to help people who are not the nicest and still be as friendly as possible, even though sometimes I don’t want to be.  That is going to be a part of any job you have.  Could the school offer a psychology class or a unit on body language to help us interact more easily with people?

At times I did feel like giving up and quitting my job.  I often thought, “This is NOT what I thought it was going to be.” But, I just have to keep trucking along.  I wish I would’ve known what it was like to be a cashier before I applied for the job and got stuck with it.  I understand there is Graduation Project where we get the opportunity to job shadow, but many of us often change our minds about what we want to do.  Even when we do job shadow, we sometimes don’t like the occupation when it’s all said and done and we end up looking at another one.

I understand there are state-mandated courses in high school and teachers are required to follow the state standards, but I think that we waste a huge portion of  time learning irrelevant lessons in high school.  Unfortunately, getting a job and working has taught me much more in a short amount of time than what I learned in six years of high school.  I wish that schools would stop teaching content that doesn’t matter and start teaching lessons that do.


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