Last week I participated in Henry County High School’s Operation Preparation.
Lawyers, detectives, farmers and other professionals sat down and discussed with high school and 8th grade students about their respective occupations. We gave out salary ranges, academic requirements, the skills needed for our job and answered student questions.
I was asked what disciplines my occupation required such as oral or written skills, math or science.
I am in a room dwarfed by chiropractors, law enforcement, mechanical engineers and your lowly hometown reporter had to answer yes to all the above. With a healthy amount of doubt, the students sized me up to see if I was actually telling the truth. I reassured them, with more information than I am sure they wanted to know, that yes in fact my job requires all of those things.
As an intern at a television news station in Cincinnati, I asked candidates during election time tough questions. I cross-referenced their statements like a prosecutor cutting through the political rhetoric with facts some were conveniently unfamiliar with. Voting results and districts turnouts require percentages just as city budgets require aspirin. I further emphasized that I have learned about science by writing about farming practices, crime investigations and medical conditions. Each profession has its own terminology, acronyms and requires research to achieve the accuracy needed for an article. I told them I had to be a great listener before anything else.
At this point I realized some students genuinely listened and others almost lost their eyes as they rolled back in their head with boredom. They weren’t rude by any means, but the experience reaffirmed in my mind why I never chose to be a teacher — it’s hard to hold a young person’s attention. Not all children have the experience or history to understand how far education has evolved and what it is worth.
When I was in high school in the 1980s, no one at school talked to me about my standardized test scores. There was no such thing as college or career readiness. It was more like you either get smart or get a job. We had college prep classes we could take but not many. I don’t blame these students nor do I mean to say that all of them weren’t interested – I saw a few light bulbs ignite.
They don’t know the culture of education in our homes when manufacturing jobs seemed a more practical career path in our society. Even Charles Dickens only sent one of his children to college. Education wasn’t always hailed as the next practical step toward a fulfilling career.
Moreover, they don’t understand, just as I didn’t until later, that generations in my family worked in fields and factories in the hopes that I would better myself. My older sister and I were the first members of our family to attend college.
I admire Eminence and Henry County schools for doing these types of activities and pushing students toward their future. Someone should remind these students that in our recent past it wasn’t always the case.