Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opening Doors For Students

doorsIn We Need to Teach So that Kids Will Care from Education On The Plate, Deven Black states,

“The first reason is because we don’t have to teach them the things they do care about. They learn those things with or without us.

…We have to teach kids things they don’t care about so that they will care about things they don’t know about yet.”

I totally agree! Kids will learn about the things that interest them and that they enjoy learning.

But let’s face it; all of us have had to do things we didn’t like. Sometimes we had to do it or the consequences were not something we wanted to face. Sometimes we do things for survival that are important but may not be fun.

My husband and I do a lot of hiking but I don’t like learning about what to do if we are lost or hurt. I guess I like to pretend that I will never be lost or hurt but that is like putting my head in the sand. It could happen so I need to be prepared. We watch videos and read articles about things that would improve our survival rate if we were in a bad situation. Now, my husband loves this stuff and loves to learn it but I really have no interest in it. Yet I understand it is important for both of us to know this stuff.

I never liked cooking when I was growing up or even when I was grown up and had a family. I cooked so that my family would be fed but that was the only reason. Now that I’m retired, I am starting to look at recipes and experiment. I wish that someone had taught me to care about this more when I was younger.

I wish that I knew how to use tools and could build things. I am having to learn this stuff on my own because when I was in school, only boys could go to shop class and girls had to go to home ec class. I wasn’t interested in sewing and cooking back then. I wanted to create things but girls were not encouraged to build things like boys.

I work hard to expose my students to different things and explain to them that they might not care about it today but someday in the future, they may be glad that they learned about this. I have introduced my students to many new things such as learning how to mat and frame pictures, build a worm compost system, baking and making dough ornaments, landscaping the school grounds and so many other things. I’m sure many of the students didn’t care about this at the time, but years later, I hear that some of my students have gone in the landscaping business, the framing business, and into culinary arts. You never know what the future may hold for the students so we need to open doors for them.

We cannot waste time only teaching them the things they care about because they don’t know what they might care about later.

My parents would introduce me to new food by asking me to take 2 bites out of it. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to finish it but I had to give it a try. I do the same thing with my students. I ask them to try new activities and complete them the best that they can (give it their all and not a half hearted attempt). I am not asking them to work towards a career in this field but just get a taste of the world out there.

By letting them just learn what they want to, then we are keeping them in the same building instead of moving out into the world. As teachers, we are taking our students on a journey and showing them the many doors that can be opened to them. On this journey, they may find doors other doors that interest them but we hadn’t seen. This can be a fantastic journey for them and lead them into having a successful future.

How do you get your students to care about learning new things? Please share!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Image: 'Porţi'


Trevor said...

So true! I'm fortunate to be able to teach biology and environmental science which are both easy to keep current and interesting. It's always a struggle, though, to reach students how seem disengaged. Thanks for giving me some things to think about.

Edumacator said...

I wholeheartedly agree! It is so important to expose students to areas that are outside of their immediate interests. It can not only open their eyes to new activities and interests, but it also teaches students the value of lifelong learning.

I have “ah-ha” moments all the time, moments when I can connect something obscure I learned to my life. It happens while watching the news, playing trivia at a pub with my friends, reading a book, having a friendly debate with colleagues, or taking on a new hobby.

When I was in middle school, my Drama teacher had me work on set design and construction even though I was only interested in acting. I was beyond annoyed that he wouldn’t let me act or direct. Now, nearly fifteen years later, I’m having flashbacks to Drama class as my husband and I are renovating our first home: the smell of saw dust, the sound of power tools, and somehow finding a splatter of paint on myself days later. I could have taken shop in high school, but I wasn’t interested. If it hadn’t been for middle school Drama (and, well, I have to give some credit to HGTV), I would be a complete disaster renovating on our first home.

As an aspiring teacher (current graduate student – career changer), I’ll be keeping this reflection in mind. You never do know what will spark interest in an unsuspecting (and uninterested) student.

loonyhiker said...

@Trevor I'm sure your attitude is what makes those subjects interesting for your students! They are lucky to have you!

@edumacator Thanks for sharing how this applied to you on a personal level. Those personal stories will go far in teaching students how things can relate to real life!