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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


The stuff they don’t teach in school

A few weeks ago, I put out a request for readers to share stories of practical ways we can prepare students for adulthood. I was finishing up the manuscript for my new book, Artifical Maturity, and wanted to include real-life examples from people around the world.

The response was absolutely overwhelming! I’m so thankful for everyone who took time to share ideas. There were so many more than could be included in one chapter of a book. But I wanted everyone to hear these great ideas. So here’s the plan: over the course of next year, I’ll share a story that someone submitted. I hope you find them as challenging and helpful as I did!


Here’s this week’s story:

I (and friends of mine) have taught young men how to drive farming equipment (tractor, combine, tri-drive trucks) where they can earn a paycheck helping someone get their crop off. Teach them how to split wood and run a chainsaw so they can keep their house warm in the MN/ND winters. Teach them how to catch and clean fish, and how to shoot and clean a deer for food. This is all stuff most guys learned from their dads, but if they don’t have a dad around or involved in their lives, they need to learn these work and play ethics from another man. Teach them how to play a sport for the pleasure of it, not just to brag. These are foundational things that have been part of who I am, and that many of my friends have tried to teach to other young men (and women).

Jim Hodgson
Bemidji, MN

What are some creative ways you’ve seen to give students practical, real-world skill that they may not necessarily pick up in the classroom?


  1. Pierre Quinn on October 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Every semester I take my freshmen communication students through a mock interview exercise. After lecturing about business communication and going through resume development the students are assigned to find a job position/internship they would be interested in. They  are then interviewed by other faculty, staff and grad students based on their chosen position and resume.  Many of them experience the same feelings they would during an actual interview.  This exercise brings a higher level of reality that students may not experience had we followed the typical mock interview activity of interviewing each other. It also give students a heads up on resume preparation which most don’t consider until their senior year.

    • Tim Elmore on October 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      This is a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing it. That is great preparation for life after the classroom!

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The stuff they don't teach in school