Real World Skills: Teaching Students for What’s Ahead

Preparing students for life after graduation is more challenging yet more critical than ever before because technology is affecting our lives every day. Jobs are becoming automated and people are being replaced by robots who can do the work more efficiently and at a lower cost.

I teach at a K-12 independent school where 100% of our students attend post-secondary schools. Our students are no different than other teenagers: they link attending good colleges with good grades; and good grades mean studying and performing well on assessments.

Just today in my Precalculus class, I exclaimed, “Isn’t this so cool?!” as we had just found the solutions of a 5th degree polynomial using the Rational Roots Theorem. Then one student said, “Yeah, but when are we ever going to have to use this in the real world?” (I LOVE when someone asks that question!)

I proceeded to say they would probably never again need any of the concepts I teach them except if they become a high school math teacher – and I hope some of them do. The class smiled and nodded as I continued, “BUT what I’m teaching you will teach you:

  • to pay attention to detail.
  • to persist when the material becomes challenging.
  • to stay motivated and focused when there are other distractions.
  • to work in a group to problem solve.
  • to think critically.
  • to critique someone else’s work in a productive way.
  • to accept suggestions to improve your own work.
  • to communicate your thoughts, ideas and questions effectively.”

I had only gotten part way through my list and the student said, “Oh, I guess you’re right.”

The “real world” is changing and our students need to graduate from high school with more than a ton of memorized facts. Through my teaching, I hope my students learn the soft-skills that will make them more competitive in that “real world.”

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Amy Yonashiro
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About Amy Yonashiro

Amy Yonashiro teaches algebra and calculus at 'Iolani School in Honolulu, HI. She enjoys fishing with her husband and digital scrapbooking. She loves SMART products because SMART works closely with teachers to improve its products to help students learn.

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