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Real Real-World Learning

School curricula should incorporate more real-world emphasis, both separate from and in relation to academics. ..... This could be running mock-businesses or role playing work situations. As a precursor to or in absensce of internships or apprenticeships, the intent is to give exposure and experience to students so they may discover their interests and be better prepared for the working world.

Photo of Sital Shah
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When I graduated from college and began working, I was clueless about the expectations and norms of working environments. I had to learn the hard way. This is despite my program saying how real-world focussed it was. High school and college students could benefit from getting these lessons before they try to get work.

Some shcools in the past established banks which would help kids learn to manage money and allow them to see how what it would be like to work in a bank. This may still be useful, but could be anachronistic with electronic banking.

I imagine lessons in how to interview, how to behave in meetings, and how to have appropriate telephone manner, and how to interact with customers. People learn by doing, so it cannot just be lecture based. Hence, role playing or establishments like the school bank are envisioned. Maybe kids can have rotations in the adminstrative office of schools. I even think this should go as far as learning about office politics and how to deal with negative environments. Most importantly, these are not one-off experiences, but done regularly so the lessons become engrained. Prepare them for rejection, teach work ethic,

Students may also learn about what they may find satisfying (and dis-satisfying) in work. Instead of dreaming of a job title or indsustry, the focus should start on whether they like fixing problems, discovery, dealing with people, or building things.

Building confidence is important, and these lessons should help greatly. Beyond that, young people should also be taught to question the status quo, and look around to identify opportunties to equip them with the belief they may be entrepreneurs.

There maybe examples similar to this in the research section. I haven't read them all, but I did find one (after writing this) that appears to apply.

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This benefits youths who enter the workforce either after high school or college or vocational programs. It will benefit employers when they see more confident, savvy, and professional young men and women whom they can confidently hire. It may benefit shcools who can get some additional productivity while teaching at the same time.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

Young people will be more impressive when they show how they carry themselves, and show what they know and can do. They will be lower risks, and better candidates in the eyes of employers. They may see how they can start out small on their own as entrepreneurs.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

This can be tried at the individual shcool or shcool district level. Need buy-in from school adminstrators, and curricula designers. Need job coaching professionals to pitch-in to develop content or activities.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Has this been done before? Has it worked? Are there any flaws in the rationale?

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • I'm more throwing the idea out there to inspire potential implementers


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great thinking, Sital. A great start in fleshing this idea out further could be to chat to some local teachers in your community to seek their feedback and suggestions. Could be exciting to involve them in the fab conversation you've started here.

We thought you might also be keen to join conversations over on this idea:

Photo of Tim Okazaki

Regarding contact into the edu programs:
Please also try to work through alumni programs, as they have access to School Boards, Teachers, Associations, and an engaged list of alumni.

Teachers - especially this time of year can be busy settling into their curriculum. While they might like your idea - you might not get the prioritization you need to meet your deadlines

A good partner in the alumni office could help you with contacts, milestones, and some roadmapping.

Photo of Hima Batavia

Hi Sital! I like where you're going with this. I've been thinking on similar lines - that there is a real opportunity to rethink how career preparation training is led in colleges, universities and channels that target youth who don't necessarily go through traditional education. I especially like your thinking around identifying what "skills" you're interested in and how you want to spend your day, rather than artificially going after roles, titles and companies. From my experience working as a professional over the last 8 years, my criteria has evolved dramatically - from status driven considerations, to now working with a great team that shares similar values.

Check out my idea here ( and let me know what you think. Your idea made me think there could be some interesting "gaming components" involved in training people to be better jobseekers, and equipping them with opportunities to try out different work scenarios. In fact, I have many friends who are going through a career transition, and taking the approach of doing 2-week projects with startups to "test the waters" - it ends up being a win-win for both the company and the person to determine a real fit, rather than one based on interview questions.

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