When will I ever use this in real life?

How often have you heard this (or words similar) ringing across your classroom?

When students encounter a concept that is totally new, confusing, or just doesn’t seem relevant to their own life the shutters will often come down. Why bother learning this intricate math formula when I’m never going to encounter the problem anyway? Why should I care about this piece of poetry?

One of the advantages of being in a careers education classroom is that the subject has obvious relevance to students staring down the barrel of their workforce future. What you are doing with your students in your classroom today is as important as anything else they will do in school from now on. So when the question rings out:

When will I ever use this in real life?
The answer is:
Now – because this is real life!


Relevant and meaningful activities

We all understand that to process and store new information, students are more likely to engage with relevant and meaningful activities that connects this information with what they already know – or in the case of careers education, what they understand they must prepare for.

Putting together a CV

In their job search your students will need to build a CV to explain their skills, experience, strengths and motivations. This can be a daunting task for any of us, more so for a young person just starting out.

It’s a challenge, but by directing your students towards an understanding of their life experience so far, you will help them to see the value in the person they have become. Encouraging them to explain the skills they have developed through their participation in community, school, family and sporting activities will help them to delve into their motivations, what makes them happy, what they believe they can contribute and what they hope to create for their future.

Understanding the value of their life experiences and learning how these will apply in a workplace environment will give your students a better appreciation of their strengths and more confidence in their abilities. It will also help them to build a CV with a trove of information that will capture the attention of any perspective employer.

Putting theory into practice

We know that abstract theory alone provides little motivation, but the careers education classroom is the perfect stage for putting theory into practice. Making this stage an interesting place to negotiate not only enhances the lesson, but it also provides a safe place for students to find, develop and practice the voice they will use in that thing we call real life.

Practicing job interviews and workplace scenarios

We can talk in the classroom about appropriate workplace behaviours and dress codes, body language and communication, but until they don the shoes of a job seeker or employee, many students will have limited understanding of the processes and practices of the workplace. Using your classroom as the stage is a fun way for students to slip into a role they will soon be playing for real.

  • Practice job interviews, working through the process from application to interview
  • Have your students play different roles throughout the process in support of one another
  • Improvise scenarios they are likely to encounter in the workplace to get them thinking on their feet
  • Hold a reflection session after each activity to discuss its success or otherwise and provide constructive feedback
  • Call on your students to give examples from their own lives and continue to relate what is being done in the classroom to their own experiences

Relevant, engaging, real

There are so many opportunities in the careers classroom to provide relevant and engaging lesson content that students can relate and apply to their own lives – the stuff they will use in real life. There are ample opportunities for students to put their ideas into practice and explore the possibilities that will shape their future. When you look at it that way, this entry into real life is a pretty exciting place for students to be.

The COMMUNICATION, WORK SKILLS, UNDERSTANDING WORK, and THE WORKPLACE modules in Work-Ready have plenty of ideas and practical, fun and hands-on activities and workshops for bringing real life into your careers classroom.