The most irritating but legitimate question teachers hear every day is “When will I ever use this in real life?” And though it is true that not everything students learn in school will have a direct application to their lives in the world outside the academic walls (solving for imaginary numbers, for instance, has yet to come up in any capacity), but when educators truly care about their students holistically, they understand that goals like passing tests and earning high grades are not the kinds of intrinsic motivators that fare well long-term. To genuinely enrich the lives of your students, you must find the tools and techniques that integrate relevant, real-world skills and knowledge into any curriculum.

For Any Career

An English instructor has the capability to teach his or her students one of the most valuable skills to have when entering the workforce: resume writing. The incorporation of a resume and cover letter writing assignment into his or her lesson plan will not only cover basic concepts like grammar, punctuation and syntax, but also more complex writing concepts like using rhetoric appeals and writing for a specific audience.

For Business Careers

For students with goals of entrepreneurship, a lesson plan that details the challenges and rewards of taking on contractual work would be useful and relevant to a business instructor’s curriculum. Teachers can do this by utilizing actual successful companies like Amway, the 30th largest private company in the U.S., as an example of a company to contract with. Since entrepreneurs also tend to contract with government agencies, a detailed lesson plan on the vocabulary used in such contractual agreements would also be beneficial to business students.

For a Career in Sales

Many lessons and classroom activities lend themselves well to the sales career field. Math, English and business instructors can each incorporate techniques in their classrooms that relate to this field. A comparative shopping exercise, for example, can help students compare two products, use decision-making methods and learn to recognize consumer scams that frequently occur. It can even provide students with the knowledge and skills required to handle consumer complaints with grace.

For a Career in Psychology

Students who plan to enter a field that involves figuratively dissecting an individual’s mind and unveiling mental disorders probably do not have many friends volunteering to play patient, but there are a slew of fictional characters full of flaws just waiting to be analyzed and categorized. A psychology instructor can implement an assignment requiring students to choose a fictional character, from Hamlet to Walter White, and then use the character’s behavior within his or her fictional setting to diagnose that character’s disorder. While the students are learning terms and characteristics of abnormal psychology, they are applying these concepts in a realistic manner.

It’s true that not all lessons learned in an educational setting will be applicable to scenarios in the post-academia world, but with a few tools and techniques, when students ask “When will I use this in real life?” your response can be “Right now.”