Needed in Education: Interesting Adults in the Workplace

An April article in The Atlantic magazine (“Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework,” Dana Goldstein) shares research on what types of parental involvement have an impact on academic achievement. Aside from reading aloud (good!) one practice stood out as particularly relevant: adult role models, especially those who have attended college and/or who are doing interesting professional work. These adults and the interactions they have with young people matter for their academic achievement.

“Robinson and Harris posit that greater financial and educational resources allow some parents to embed their children in neighborhoods and social settings in which they meet many college-educated adults with interesting careers. Upper-middle-class kids aren’t just told a good education will help them succeed in life. They are surrounded by family and friends who work as doctors, lawyers, and engineers and who reminisce about their college years around the dinner table.”

These conversations are at the heart of how children develop career aspirations at an early age. Having parents who are lawyers, technologists, or engineers means that children of these adults take college and professional success for granted: it’s normal.

And for those who have not attended college? It’s a different type of dinner table conversation. What are these young people taking for granted?

Apprenticeships can fill the gap. At Apprentice Learning, we create intentional relationships between a middle school student and an adult. Over an apprenticeship in the workplace, adults help a young person imagine themselves in their shoes. It’s powerful and something that is hard to teach in the classroom–or at home.

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