Whether it be ingrained from teaching or motherly instinct, I often feel the need to say, “I’m proud of you!” to strangers when I learn of their good deeds or words. Mike Rowe is my latest recipient. It is both a tragedy and a blessing that his TED talk was emailed to me recently. The tragedy is that it is my first viewing since the talk aired in 2008. The blessing, of course, is it is still being passed from person to person and I didn’t miss out.
Mike Rowe’s reach is wide, but you will likely know him for Discovery’s Dirty Jobs. In his TED Talk he relays some of the epiphanies from his first seasons. The talk opens with a particular job of sheep herding (which is probably not school material) but is used to prove his point that there is a sort of Cold War on work in our country. I will let you watch yourself so I don’t water down the point. It is absolutely true and sadly not improving greatly some five years after his speech.
How can teachers and parents help inspire students to get through the “dirty jobs” in learning so they reap the rewards? When I think back to my grade school days, it is sad to say I don’t remember very many teachers well. I’m in no way trying to slight the teachers I don’t remember well because I know I progressed each of the years (and truth be told, grade school was a LONG time ago). The teachers I do remember, though, were inspirational. They tantalized students with some knowledge, provided tools and nurtured the process to allow growth in the subject. Finally, they added feedback and encouragement to move forward. The topics weren’t easy, the rigor was part of the challenge. The key, was and still is, in making the topic relevant, and allowing for reflection to make the learning more personal.
What better way to make a one dimensional curriculum topic relevant than to relate it to real jobs? Giving students an opportunity to find the work/discipline which relates to an objective is a powerful learning experience as well. Another added benefit of relating work skills to curricula is that life is interdisciplinary. Seeing relationships to other subjects is only part of the collateral learning students discover when they learn more about real work and they may find an obscure job to inspire them to continue their education toward a career goal. Mike is advocating for more technical skills education and has some great resources and even scholarships available on his website, Profoundly Disconnected.
Thank you for your efforts Mike Rowe. I am proud of you.
Thank you to:
Ms. Bingham for being so loving and nurturing; Ms. Brooks for believing math is the most exciting concept in the universe; Mr. Tester for some many quirky exciting talents like being able to draw a perfect circle with a swing of your arm and knowing SO much about Algebra and cool spatial puzzles; Ms. White for grading my papers rather than how I looked or my behavior; Ms. Welborn for making old English literature interesting; and Ms. Benson for having us analyze contemporary songs as poems and teaching that writing is a process and ensuring we practiced it often.