Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Purpose of School

In What's the Point of School? From The Tempered Radical, Bill Ferriter shares,

The simple truth is that engaging learners means helping students to see the value -- to themselves, to their communities, to the world -- in every single lesson.

My husband struggled through school when he was young and he says no one could tell him the purpose of what he was learning. There was no relevance to what was taught (in his mind) so why bother. No one connected the learning in the present to the effect it will have on his future. I keep that in mind all the time when I am teaching.

I was a good student and did what was expected of me but I’m not sure I can connect some of my learning to my present day life. I took AP Calculus because there was no other math course for me to take at the time but I do not see how I have used any of my knowledge to my every day life now. Maybe someone reading this can tell me that I am using it and just don’t know it.  I know that I like learning just to learn but if a student is already struggling, I don’t think any kind of learning is fun for them.

I think we will always be able to reach the students who find it easy to learn but it is also very easy to lose the students who find it hard to learn.

One of the best ways to help this struggling learner is by starting out showing them the relevance of the information they are going to learn. Knowing why they are learning something can be a helpful motivator when they start having some difficulties. It helps to see the end goal at this time.  I think it would be a great introduction for students to get in small groups and brainstorm why they might need this new skill they will learn. It would help you see how many students already know why or when they might need this skill and they might have seen their parents or other people doing this.  Having others see the value in the skill will also help the struggling learner.

How do you show students the relevance of learning a new skill? Please share.

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