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Volume 13, Number 2
March/April 1997

Making Schoolwork More Like Real Work

Exemplary School-to-Work Programs Show Promise for More Purposeful and Engaged Learning


"During freshman and sophomore year, I didn't pay attention in class because I really did not care. I care now because this is something I really want to do. When you are interested in the work that you are doing, you will go the extra step . . . you will not be bored as you would if you were in a classroom listening to the teacher. . . . The program is not just about being released from school, but more about learning because you want to learn."

Rohit Rana shared these views in an article he wrote during his junior year at Cambridge (MA) Rindge and Latin School, several months into an internship in facilities management, that was cosponsored by Rindge and Harvard University. His words appeared in a newsletter that he and fellow interns put together as part of the language arts component of their integrated program of school and workplace learning.

Only a small percentage of students have the opportunity to participate in such programs while in high school. Asked to comment on their experiences, many--like Rohit--use it as an opportunity to critique "regular" school. Although this in itself is not surprising, what is striking is the frequency with which students report that at work they have better learning experiences and feel better about their relationships with adults than they do at school.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

H. Kopp and R. Kazis. Promising Practices: A Study of Ten School-to-Career Programs. Jobs for the Future.

L. Mikulecky. "Job Literacy: The Relationship Between School Preparation and Workplace Actuality." Reading Research Quarterly 3, vol. xviii, no. 3 (1982), pp. 400-419.

F. Newmann and G. Wehlage. Successful School Restructuring. Madison, WI: Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools, 1995.

L. Olson. "The Career Game," Education Week , October 2, 1996: 31-33.

E. Pauly, H. Kopp, J. Haimson. Homegrown Lessons: Innovative Programs Linking School and Work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995.

B. Schneider, M. Csikszentmihalyi, and S. Knauth. "Academic Challenge, Motivation, and Self-Esteem: The Daily Experiences of Students in High School." In M. Hallinan (ed.), Restructuring Schools: Promising Practices and Policies. New York: Plenum Press, 1995.

L. Steinberg, with B. Brown and S.M. Dornbusch. Beyond the Classsroom: Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

D. Stern, M. Raby, and C. Dayton. Career Academies: Partnerships for Reconstructing American High Schools. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1992.

D. Stern et al. School to Work: Research on Programs in the United States. London: Falmer Press, 1995.