A Year in Johnsonville: Bringing the real world into the classroom


Many schools teach students how to become excellent test takers, mainly just teaching them the skills they need to pass standardized exams.  However, these schools neglect to teach students the real world skills they will need in the workforce. To try and remedy this issue, North Carolina 5th grade teacher, Anthony Johnson set out on a mission to teach his students real-world skills in the classroom.

Johnson created a yearlong adventure for his class called Johnsonville.  Its purpose was to simulate adult life and teach his students important life skills that will benefit them throughout their careers.  Johnsonville students learned about personal finance, global affairs, entrepreneurship, all the while still doing better than average on standardized testing.  

Each student started the year with $1000 in Johnsonville cash.  They then had to buy or rent a place to live, and make and manage their money throughout the year.  They also had the opportunity to run a business, working with their suppliers and customers, as well as marketing their products.  Johnsonville taught students about politics by holding local elections, teaching them about a political system that some adults still struggle to understand.  He got rid of student desks and replaced them with tables and sofas to encourage teamwork, making it easier his class of students to transform into a community of innovators.

This type of project based learning teaches students how to lead successful lives.  They learn to collaborate on projects, as well as keep track of their own work. They were able to earn extra money by staying on top of their work and demonstrating good behavior.

Anthony Johnson figured out a genius way to engage students while preparing them to conquer the real world - teaching them collaboration, citizenship, and critical thinking.  Johnsonville’s success may someday serve as a model for classrooms across America so that every child can be taught the skills they need to succeed in life, instead of just on tests.

Story via TedEd