Career Education . . . Where Does it Fit?

by Leanne Merkowsky

“Why should I teach it?  It isn’t my responsibility!  I teach Math!”

“There just isn’t enough time!”

“I don’t know anything about careers!”

The reactions are many when a teacher is first asked to infuse career education into their subject area, and although it may seem a daunting task at first, it is really as simple as 1, 2, 3.

1.  Career education belongs in every subject.  It belongs in every grade level.  It belongs in every school.  Early exposure to career options affects students’ credit choice, work path and personal life.  Addressing pertinent skills and abilities in school and helping students make the link eases the transition from education to work.  The English skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking are cross-curricular and are vital skills to possess when entering the workforce, whether it is to study safety manuals, complete application forms, understand contracts, fill food orders, listen to news reports or read a recipe to make a chocolate cake in hope of getting rid of excess, unwanted zucchini.  Math inevitably follows us through life as we measure a home’s foundation, purchase a vehicle and calculate interest, determine how much fertilizer is needed for the crop, or compute the 10% off sale at Nutters during the last Thursday of the month.  Biology is mandatory for nurses, veterinarians, and blood spatter-pattern analysts like Dexter, as is Physics for engineers and rocket scientists.  Chemistry lovers may become pharmacists or may even solve Cadbury’s Caramilk secret.  Whatever the subject interest of the student, there is sure to be a career link.  As a teacher, it is your job to provide these insights, encourage exploration, garnish interest in students and cultivate a curiosity that will lead them to further studies in an area that best fits them.

2.  What better way to introduce careers in a relevant, engaging and interesting way for your students than to camouflage the learning in regular teaching routines!  Take time to talk with your students and create a positive ‘career culture’.  Connect activities and learning to local labour market statistics and personal interest.  This eases the school to work transition and helps calm the nerves of those who are anxious, yet afraid of what their future holds.  Choosing a career is no longer a single choice . . . it is a life-long, exciting and dynamic choice.  Be supportive!

3.   Enhancing the ‘soft skills’ of getting along with others, punctuality, reliability and a positive attitude are beneficial for students now and in their future.  Make a point to acknowledge these behaviours in students, explain their importance and encourage continued ‘good’ practices.  They may not be aware of how these skills fit into their future, but through informal conversation, personal experiences and sharing of values, it is easy to share ‘the secrets’ of a successful future.

Career Education is everyone’s responsibility and whether we know it or not, what we say, what we do and how we act greatly impacts the decisions our students make for their future.

What kind of impression are you making on your students?

In Kathy Cassidy’s article, “Career Education in First Grade” (thanks for sharing Donna), she points outs how the concept of ‘careers’ has changed over the years and what we, as educators, can do to help accommodate these changes.  Careers, much like our students, are evolving.  Are we adequately preparing our students?  I invite you to read her article, and reflect on your practices. 

How are you infusing career development in your class?


September 30, 2013Permalink