School Should Never Be Real Life

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by vasta

I haven’t been able to peruse Twitter as much lately, coaching and parenting have dominated my time, both very rewarding and a lot of fun but both are big commitments that will keep me from things like Twitter and blogging. Yesterday, I did get a chance to pop on, read a few interesting articles and blog posts. One post I saw talked about how a certain activity was more like “real life” and then comments about how school SHOULD be real life.

Real life. When we are talking about how we want to prepare our students for the “real world” or for their future careers, I get it. We are all for creating the “target context” and for developing practical 21st century skills. We are all on board when it comes to helping our students become well rounded, creative, active learners who will be successful in life when they leave us and contribute in a positive way to society. When it comes to those ideas of “real life” then there will be little argument from most educators.

But “real life” or the “real world” has a lot going on that I never want to see in our buildings. As we try to bring more and more of everyday life into our schools and make them more and more like the world our students will enter we have to be cognizant of ensuring we still provide a place that our students can grow and learn. We need to ensure our buildings remain safe, fair, supportive, collaborative and welcoming to all students.

Our world is not safe, especially for minorities, and while that is “real life” we all work hard every day to protect our students from bullying, intolerance, and abuse. Our society is far from fair, competition is everywhere and its ridiculous to think everyone begins the race from the same starting line. There are many workplaces where support and collaboration go against the very goals they strive for, whether its sales numbers or innovation, but pushing that type competition into our schools is to take away a huge asset to development and learning.

Don’t get me wrong, I know our job is to prepare our students for the world of tomorrow. They need the skills and knowledge we help develop to be successful and to contribute in a meaningful way, but learning can and should get messy. Our students will make mistakes and learn to move past them, but in a place where the care, the support and the guidance is there to help them get beyond their difficulties. They have to feel safe, supported and cared for and they need to trust their guides that put them back on the right path. That requires a place that creates those feelings and provides those guides. School should never be real life, because many of our students won’t find those feelings or those mentors anywhere except school.