“ALL Cañon City High School students will have opportunities to explore career pathways of interest while gaining skills needed to be successful in any life endeavor, and while enjoying many traditional high school experiences valued by students and the greater community.”
So far, the most prominent concern with the proposed Pathways curriculum is the perception that it forces a freshman to make a life-long choice. According to the Labor Department, “the average person born in the later years of the baby boom held 10.5 jobs from age 18 to 40. In 2006, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 54 million Americans, or 40 percent of the work force, left their jobs.” So, the inability to make a career decision is not limited to teenagers. Instead of worrying about students making the wrong choice, our community should view the shift to Pathways as a move toward relevance in education, passion for learning, and students sitting in a classroom for a purpose in which they believe--even if those beliefs change in 5 years.
Robin Roberson, a lifelong student of the tenants of education and a PHD candidate, breaks relevance down into two components: utility value and relatedness. “Utility value is purely academic and emphasizes the importance that content has for the students’ future goals — both short-term and long-term goals.” “Relatedness is an inherent need students have to feel close to the significant people in their lives, including teachers” (Roberson 2013). I believe that many teachers at CCHS work tremendously hard in developing relationships with students. They show passion in their work, and therefore, the relatedness component of relevance has been present at CCHS for many students. But what happens when a student doesn’t relate to his or her teacher? And, how well does relatedness without utility value work?
Without utility value, a demonstration that education has importance for a student’s direct goals falls short. Pathways curriculum provides utility value. It answers the questions, “why must I learn this today?” The answer is, “because it is necessary to be successful in your chosen field.” It’s no matter that the chosen field may change in some years. What is instead developing within a student who is interested in the curriculum is a passion and propensity for learning--a character trait that even an adult must posses in order to change jobs at the age of 40.