It's Not About the Real World

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John Spencer

John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler. He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard and the co-founder of Write About. He is passionate about helping students develop into better writers and deeper thinkers.

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  1. i love it.
    let's make school real life.

    shared your post here:

  2. Not that I think we need to get bogged down in semantics, but I think that the "Real World" argument is just another way for frustrated teachers to chide students because what they are doing is not exhibiting any sort of responsibility.

    You know what I mean -- not showing up, not turning in work, having a notebook that consists of five Post-It notes and a message written in ink on the palm of a hand -- the "this doesn't work in the real world" argument is put forth instead of saying, "you need to be responsible."

    Because if there is one real-world skill that we're preparing them for it's a three-way in a hot tub right after you put your finger in your house-mate's peanut butter ...

    Oh, wait. Hold on a sec.

    Okay, seriously. If there's one thing they need in the Real World that I think most people would agree with, it's the ability to handle yourself, speak for yourself, advocate for yourself, and find your own way without having your hand being held. At some point between elementary school and high school graduation, the training wheels have to come off.

    Because quite frankly, I understand having to wipe my two-year-old's ass every day. I don't understand having to wipe the asses of 80 high school sophomores.

  3. I agree that teaching authenticity is better than "real world" preparations. The "real world" is not the same for everyone. In most cases it isn't the "real world" but "dog eat dog".

    I didn't learn how to compose myself in public in school by any means. I've been a server for 4 years which, in my view, has been a great learning experience. I've seen things I wish I had never seen before. But, I have learned how to talk to people the right way, how to avoid conflict with co-workers, and how to bite my tongue and smile.

    I think that these are the basic skills for the real world that teachers cannot relay to their students unless they are completely brutal. The
    "real world" is what needs to prepare students for the "real world", not the school system.

    Back to your point of authenticity, if kids were just taught to be honest to themselves and to other people, they might come out with the originality needed to survive in the ever-changing "real world". I'll take creative chaos over prompt organization any day.

  4. Adora Svitak says in her TED talk that our goal as adults should be to help kids be better adults than we have been. What you have discussed here I think is an important shift to make that possible. We can't expect our students to be compassionate and responsible people if we keep holding up an example of a "real world" where people look out only for themselves (and nuts to anyone else).

  5. I like this notion that the goal should be "better than the real world."


Please leave a comment. I enjoy the conversation.