Students Learn About the 'Real World'

"It's going to include your gas, your electric, local calling only..." is what the Floyd Middle Magnet School student is told. She's paying for utilities at the schools 'Real World' exercise. Students with make belive paychecks and checking accounts are buying Real World clothing, Real World groceries..even Real World insurance.

Teacher Kathy Gaylor says, "My goal is to give them an idea about what happens when you select a career, and what kind of salary you're going to make when you select that career and what kind of budgets you're going to have to live under based on the career that you've chosen."

Before students buy luxuries, they have to pay for the necessities; at real world prices that can eat up a paycheck real quick. Teresa Brooks is a volunteer from Alabama Power. "They're (the students) having to go with a lot of the basic utilities, such as just electricity of course and a garbage pick up, no long distance charges and no premium channels," she says.

In real life, car transmissions go out and workers get unexpected bonuses at work. The same thing happens at the Real World 'deck of chance' table; where depending on which card students select, they either win the lottery or have to fork out some big bucks. 8th grader Amanda Tackett had bad luck. "I had to pay $250 because I got hit by another car. I got in an accident," she says.

That little intangible meant Tackett lost money for the month. Students who are making out the best have big salaries and fiscal restraint. Classmate Ernest Shuford says, "the house I bought was $850 and the car I bought was $3,000 and I could go for two years on it at $155 per month. It's a used car."

Teachers hope the Real World will force students to give serious thought about careers. The youngsters say it's already helped them understand issues facing their parents.