Sometimes career development is the best medicine for a disillusioned student.

In November, 2020, I talked to Chad, a grade 11 student in my career development course. He was bored with school and placed in my course because of the lack of options in his remote learning options during a pandemic. He meandered along in his school experience, making it to grade 11 successfully, but never really connecting to what his school courses should have been doing for him – helping him figure out what to do after high school. He was coming to the end of the conventional K-12 experience and had no plan for post-high school life.

Chad had been searching for relevance and purpose, completing homework begrudgingly with the prodding of teachers and parents. He followed the rules and completed courses, but felt lost about the purpose of it all.

Chad had trouble making the connection between who he was and what he was learning in school.

He learned to read and do math from K-11, but didn’t feel the connection of why those skills were important for his future. He never pondered why school constantly tried to build his socialization, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Writing a history or English paper was preparing him for the real world, right? Figuring out that quadratic equation would connect him to a job one day, right?

Chad didn’t think so.

That’s why it’s so important for the math, English, physics, and physical education teachers of the world to not only teach their important subject matter, but also, to show their students ‘why’ these courses are potentially important to their career paths down the road.

Bringing ‘why’ into every classroom builds a different mindset in students. This teaching mindset also doesn’t involve a costly curriculum update. Teachers generally teach their gig because they love it and they love sharing their subject with others. Injecting a simple lens of skills development, self-awareness, and career possibilities empowers students to become savvier about their place and fit with the subject. Students become equipped to make purposeful decisions about future career pathing.

The effects are these: all teachers ignite a new level of engagement among students in their courses; students become empowered to become their own career facilitators.

Chad completed the LEAN Career Design Canvas (a reflective career dev graphic organizer tool) in my class and connected to his interest in auto mechanics as more than hobby he and his dad toyed with. He learned that he could pursue actual educational paths to become a mechanic and that reading and math were essential if he wanted to pursue this life interest. I led him to labour market information (LMI) about Red Seal Journeymen and he was excited that he could make a decent wage doing what he loved to do.

In short, when he presented his LEAN Career Design Canvas, connecting the dots of his life, his larger school experience became more relevant. He even connected to a larger cluster of jobs in different industries related to his interest in mechanics.

Ed signed up for the Automotive Technology Program at the Louis Riel Arts and Technology Centre.

He felt disillusioned about school. Now, he couldn’t wait for his grade 12 program to start in Fall 2021-22.

Nothing like a dose of career dev.