Relating Academics to "Real Life"

Though obtaining a GED diploma provides clients with greater access to higher-paying jobs, some students may feel that the skills they learn are impractical in their potential job field. For these students, it can be difficult to appreciate the value of logic reasoning, arithmetic and research skills if they choose to participate in a line of work that does not explicitly require such skills. However, it is crucial for these students to realize the importance of thinking analytically; it equips workers with the knowledge necessary to execute informed decision making by considering the nuances of complex situations. This is a defining trait in dignified job candidates, so having this expertise makes an applicant stand out in the hiring process.


Consequently, a GED program must ensure that its students value the learning they receive; an effective way of accomplishing this is by relating academics to “real life”, meaning that students feel they can implement their acquired educational skills in their daily lives. Often, students gain intrinsic motivation when they witness the positive effects of education on former GED students from backgrounds similar to theirs. This was exemplified in a GED class located in Brooklyn, New York, where students would facilitate conversation through an activity called “Telling Our Stories”. Students were able to share transformative events in their lives, which formed trust amongst the class by building sympathy. This boosted their confidence when talking about issues that mattered to them and enabled them to appreciate the importance of achieving a higher education. 


Synthesizing newspapers, magazines, and websites, referred to as “authentic materials,” students wrote about current events and how they related to their lives. This activity helped to promote the academic skills of data summarization and interpretation, which are skills taken directly from the traditional GED and pre-GED workbooks. Towards the conclusion of the program, self-assessment revealed that the majority of students believed that these “real world programs” enhanced their learning of society and better prepared them to pass the GED examination. 


In another GED program at the University of Northern Iowa, educators Kostalecky and Hokinson described using novels in non literature classes to relate material to students. After reading these novels, students were asked to present ways that the story of protagonists related to their personal situations. After students completed post-written surveys, the teachers learned that clients felt that by reading books in which the main character overcomes his/her obstacles, they were inspired to engage in the learning process (Kostelecky & Hoskinson, 2005).


Thus, a potential GED program at Eva’s Village must incorporate a method by which students can feel that the knowledge they learn is applicable to their lives. This is primarily accomplished by having students speak with one another about their circumstances, which facilitates trust and sympathy. From there, educators can further motivate students by incorporating activities in which students feel encouraged to share their opinions as a means to empower their voice and improve their living conditions.