Derailing the Blind Walk Down a Career Path

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 35.8 million people will enter the workforce this decade. Many of them are students who will graduate this summer. Following graduation, students take their first blind step toward a lifelong career. It is blind because students often ill advisedly pursue one of the first careers that interest them. Most children aspire to become an astronaut or a rock star, but these careers are demystified and the realities are exposed as the child grows older. This process must be perpetuated to the next round of career perceptions, the first time students truly consider careers. When students are granted the academic freedom to explore potential passions, they will gain both motivation and career awareness.

Schools owe it to their students to prepare them for the best possible future. Independence and flexibility can create motivation and give students an opportunity to shine. Since the students are studying what they want and how they want, it is easier to learn for the sake of learning. Students can choose a future based on true fit as opposed to initial impression while developing passion, grit, responsibility, and life skills along the way. Independent project electives can help derail the blind walk down a career path.

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Exploring Passion in School- Long Term Benefits

Students can have a more satisfying career if they are given opportunities like Science Research, student-organized classes, and strong internship programs because they teach real world skills, expose students to potential work environments, and foster passion. Students will be better able to apply their knowledge, learn public speaking and professional skills, and develop grit.

Employers will value those who can generate original ideas and innovate. These are two skills are developed in the experimental design aspect of Science Research; every student’s research has to be original and cannot have been performed before. Student-organized classes indirectly teach students leadership and organizational skills because they have to lead the class. Plus, the concept of forming a new class teaches the students that there are benefits to creating opportunities for yourself and others, a valuable skill for achievement in the workplace.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

Massive Open Online Courses, abbreviated MOOCs, have become increasingly popular. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to take these free lectures, which are taught by some of the most accomplished professors in the field. While, the programs do not grant degrees, students can receive a certificate of completion. I never envision these programs replacing current education models. However, MOOCs can be used as an effective compliment to teaching. Flipped classroom methods of teaching are coming into use. Outside of class, students watch lectures, either of their teacher or of a MOOC, and in class students complete problems and work on a one on one level with the teacher. This style of teaching is starting to be used at the university level for math and engineering because it is a more efficient use of class time. It is similar to how students don’t read books in English class; rather, they discuss the books instead. Still, it may be years before MOOCs are considered for high school school use. If you are interested you can learn more about MOOCs by visiting the websites of Udacity,EdX, and Coursera, the three largest providers of MOOCs.

Subscribe to this blog at https://johndiorio.wordpress.com and get email updates on the first and third Tuesday of each month as I continue to describe how I am revising my book and preparing to publish it by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other teachers, administrators, or anyone who may benefit.

The Internship Program

Why wait until college to have valuable internship experiences? Encouraging internships during high school is a growing trend across the United States. However, schools must ensure that students are able to learn the most from their internships. It can be difficult for students to find organizations that fit their interests and allow high school interns. I have heard numerous internship success stories as well as spoken to students who were disappointed by their internship. Much of this variation is the result of whether or not the organization mentors the student and actively involves him or her in the work. Consequently, school should make a point to reach out to businesses in the community so that mutually beneficial internships can be organized. If these connections can be formed there is a higher likelihood that students will intern at an organization that they can learn the most from.

Subscribe to this blog at https://johndiorio.wordpress.com and get email updates on the first and third Tuesday of each month as I continue to describe how I am revising my book and preparing to publish it by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other teachers, administrators, or anyone who may benefit.

Student-Organized Electives

Student Study Group

 

I have previously discussed how the motivation to learn will benefit from increased student flexibility; however, specific examples of this weren’t given. This theory could manifest itself through student-organized elective courses. Allowing students to create classes that they are truly interested in will promote exploration, and the students’ organization of the classes is conducive of responsibility. I have recently become aware of a similar program called “Group Independent Study Projects” at Brown University. Creating a similar program at Ridgefield High School is something that I will explore with school administration, as it would bring life to the ideas set forth in my book. Further details along with the logistics of this plan will be released when my book is published in April 2015.

Subscribe to this blog at https://johndiorio.wordpress.com and get email updates on the first and third Tuesday of each month as I continue to describe how I am revising my book and preparing to publish it by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other teachers, administrators, or anyone who may benefit.

Grit

Grit

 

Every year my Science Research class dedicates a class period to learning about grit, the perseverance and passion to achieve long term goals. Angela Duckworth has spent years researching grit, including its applicability in the classroom. She has found that the students who perform the best are not necessarily the brightest students. Rather, the students who achieve the most are those who are committed to accomplishing their goals. In her TED talk (link posted below), Duckworth concludes that teaching grit is difficult, but I believe that one way that it can be developed if you let kids fail. Certain adversities are inherent when trying to complete original research as a high school student. While rejections and setbacks are frustrating, they allow students to develop “gritty” skills, which actually help them achieve their goals. If Science Research classes become more popular, they can help students develop crucial learning and career skills.

Research Mentor

The Science Research Mentor

I’ve previously given an overview of how the Science Research course is organized, but I want to go into more detail about the role of the mentor. It’s a big commitment for a professional researcher to mentor high school student. This usually means that the supervising scientist is agreeing to help the student by answering questions and making sure that they are on the right track. But most of all, it is asking a lot for a mentor to open up their lab to the student so that they conduct their own research. As a result, there can be disappointing moments a long the road to finding a mentor, as many scientists will reject you. There are templates if students have a tough time wording the e-mails at first, and the instructors always review important e-mails before they’re sent. I was fortunate and found mentor early on in my sophomore year, but many students aren’t as lucky. I discuss how there is one bright side to this in my book, and it is that the students that achieve their long term goals are the ones that bounce back from failure. It has been repeatedly proven that these effects are as impactful as they sound. Even though those skills are nearly impossible to teach, they can be taught through many of the experiences that naturally occur in Science Research.

Subscribe to this blog at https://johndiorio.wordpress.com and get email updates on the first and third Tuesday of each month as I continue to describe how I am revising my book and preparing to publish it by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other teachers, administrators, or anyone who may benefit.