teaching high school students about labor issues

This is from a reader who’s an attorney who participates in a mentoring program at a local high school with a law magnet. She was giving a presentation to students there on employment law, and used some posts from Ask a Manager for warm-up and closing activities. Here’s her letter on how it went:

Thank you again for okay-ing the use of your work in my classroom presentation, which was this morning. It went very well! We started with the question from a pregnant interviewee, and used that as a jumping off point for talking about employment discrimination in general (as well as discussing why employees might not want to take legal action) before discussing some of your 10 myths, and ended with an exercise where they got to play adviser to some of your readers (they enjoyed the question about different dress codes for differently-shaped women). In the middle, I used a few examples from your readers as part of a fair/unfair, legal/illegal activity that the kids got very invested in.

Overall, your work was extremely helpful in shaping the presentation (a nice mix of law and logic), and I hope you gain many new readers!

I think this is really cool, and I’m printing it here in case anyone else who works with students is inspired to do something similar.

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. AnonHR*

    I love the fair/unfair vs. legal/illegal discussion! Great to get kids thinking about that while they’re forming their view of the workplace.

      1. ExTeach*

        They had some definite OPINIONS, most of them very well thought out. They were also really good at pointing out which fact patterns they needed more information on before making a decision.

    1. Jessa*

      Yes. So many people try and say illegal when they mean unreasonable or unfair.

      But AAM in the classroom. I can see a future expansion of the AAM brand.

  2. some1*

    Ha! I’ve been reading this blog for a year or so and even I thought being fired made automatically made you ineligible to receive Unemployment.

  3. Emma*

    This is phenomenal. 26-year-old me wishes I had this in high school! Of course, if I had known, would I have cared? I think if teens *were taught to* and *given the space to*, pay more consideration to work issues (jobs, careers, pay, labor laws, etc.), it’d help students avoid costly mistakes (taking on a boatload of debt for a college degree because “you get paid more with a college degree” and because life after HS seems like sailing off the edge of the earth if you don’t immediately go to higher ed, financing a year-model car, etc.).

    Great work, OP!

  4. Adam*

    So awesome. I really wish schools did more things like this. I think the closest mine ever did was making us practice balancing a checkbook (which no one could properly do). And less than a decade later pretty much all banking went online and checks were those things you silently groaned at when older generations pulled them out in retail lines.

  5. Elysian*

    This is amazing. I would love to get involved in a something like this – I might have to look for a similar program near me.

  6. Confused*

    Good for you!
    When I was in Jr. High we did some pretend balancing of checking accounts and credit cards. When it was time to open my first checking account, it was nice to have an idea of how to proceed. Teaching “real life” skills is so helpful and not done nearly enough, IMO.
    I wish I could have taken AAM 101 in college :)

  7. Natalie*

    You know, it occurs to me that a broader “you and the law” clinic would be very helpful for high school students. I had a lot of friends, for example, who were suckered by unscrupulous landlords for their first few apartments.

    1. ExTeach*

      There is a pretty good elective program for schools to implement- StreetLaw. I think they also have adult education programs. I cribbed from some of their materials as well as AAM. I definitely wish I’d had it in school!

      1. OnceaLawyer*

        My law school has a great program called The People’s Law School. It covers basic stuff like landlord/tenant law, wills/trusts, consumer rights (what to do when you buy a lemon of car for example). It’s excellent and I think everyone should have the opportunity to attend something like that.

        A few of the PDF presentations are online here:

  8. Ashlee*

    I wish my school had a class on finding a job that ran like this. I might have not had such a hard time for a year after graduating HS finding a regular job if we had a resource like AAM and LW’s program.


  9. Queen Victoria*

    After the infuriating post earlier today about employees being asked to finance their boss’ family ski trip, I needed an uplifting AAM post. It sounds like the OP did an awesome job utilizing AAM as a teaching resource!

  10. ExTeach*

    Thank you all for your kind comments! It was a great experience, and I think it was useful for the students in thinking about how legal issues affect them day-to-day, particularly in an area that they will all be dealing with soon, if they aren’t already.

    The students go to a public high school, but are taking law-based elective classes (most of the students were in the Constitutional Law elective). I really wish I’d had such an elective class in school – there are so many things I’ve had to learn by trial and (much) error as an adult. Thank goodness I found AAM!

  11. MissDisplaced*

    It’s awesome to see this in the high schools! The students will likely be faced with this all too soon.

    They should also have things like this in high school for financial planning, cooking/nutrition and other of life’s necessities.

    1. April*

      Financial planning…hm…maybe. But “cooking/nutrition and other of life’s necessities”? Not sure I see the point. Some basic rudimentary life skills you just aren’t supposed to have to learn in school. I guess such a thing might conceivably be helpful for students whose home life is dysfunctional, and certainly it’s important to reach out to such individuals. But I am not sure that making life skills courses a normal mainstream part of high school is a good way to go about doing so.

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