top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teacher: Workforce prep isn’t my job

When Ohio Gov. John Kasich proposed requiring teachers to serve an “externship” at a business to renew their teacher’s licenses, there was little support for the idea, reports The job shadowing proposal has been dropped.

Kasich wants to get businesses more involved with preparing students for 21st Century jobs.

Ian Avery, a high school English teacher, believes it’s not his job to prepare my students for the workforce.

He read Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn with his sophomore English students. The poem concludes: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” “The sophomores liked the idea of looking past the specific, practical details of the urn and, instead, taking pleasure in the wholly transcendent value of the beauty of art – experiencing simple beauty: one of the moments that makes life worth living and enhances the value of our time on earth,” writes Avery.

He doesn’t expect his students to become professional poets. “Many will take more pleasure in careers than in staring at or reading about old vases,” he writes. “But now they are more aware of the importance of that which cannot be quantified.

Vocational training is “neither my role nor my responsibility to my students,” Avery concludes.

We read the art of language so we can enjoy its beauty and learn about life itself; we craft writing so we can learn about the discipline, skill, and creativity it takes to express oneself in the most effective and affecting way possible. Our activities will lead my students to greater employability, but this is not my main goal.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, Jeff Murray found a job at a construction company.  “Everything about my high school and college experiences helped me to become a successful employee, he writes.

. . .  I used every ounce of wordcraft I had studied and obsessed over in Brit Lit and Sonnet Seminar to write newsletters, clarify job specs, and interact with customers. It wasn’t Fitzgerald, but it was clear and direct and helpful to business. They didn’t know they needed an English major until they got one. And I could have succeeded in the same way in other areas too. Because above all, high school and college taught me how to think, how to work hard, how to budget my time, how to get to the point, and how to produce my best work under pressure whatever the arena.

In addition to programmers and engineers, the future “needs abstract thinkers, storytellers, lovers of beautiful words, analysts, and people who can render complex ideas understandable in all areas of our workforce,” writes Murray. “The best employee is both thinker and maker.”

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page