by Leanne Merkowsky
Just like the ‘chicken and the egg’ debate, the ‘Coke and Pepsi’ war and the ‘under or over toilet tissue’ dilemma, choosing a career path will always be an area of great contest with teachers, students and parents.
Students are “standing on the threshold” of their future. They have tough decisions to make. Will they choose to enter the workforce, travel abroad, continue schooling, support a family business or become entrepreneurs? They are entering unknown territory filled with challenges, obstacles and hurdles. How are we preparing them to deal with the barriers they may encounter, or applaud the successes they may celebrate? Have we exposed them to the wealth of opportunities that lie ahead? Have we encouraged them to identify the skills learned at school and explore how they ‘fit’ into the ‘real’ world?
Through the ‘new and improved’ high school science curriculum, students make connections between what they are learning and why it may be important for their future. They are challenged to find the ‘careers in science’ and the ‘science in careers’. Is chemistry/physical science important for a hairdresser? How does knowledge of the environmental sciences help firefighters? Do hockey players benefit from taking biology/health science? Is knowledge of soil composition and chemical combinations important for farmers? A career planning unit integrated into the science curriculum appears to be a rather bizarre juxtaposition, however, its implications are vast.
Through personalizing teachings and indicating relevancy, students are more engaged and likely to see the importance of what they are learning and how it is applicable to their futures. Both academic performance and attendance increase when students are motivated and interested in the subject matter. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel – understand the purpose of the class – relate to it. Through career exploration, they acquire a better understanding of themselves (skills, interests, talents), and make decisions “that are based on their personal realities rather than the social realities imposed by their friends and families”. They understand how their prospective fields of work may have specific science requirements and how these classes may effectively impact other dimensions of their life, such as their hobbies, friends and family. Science fits into all aspects of life – we just have to help students piece the puzzle together! Although they may change their passions and career paths often, one thing remains constant . . . . the answers to the opening questions: chicken, Coke and under!
For great ideas and resources, check out . . . http://www.sciencebuddies.org.