Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Making Learning Relevant

The lessons I have seen begins with a story that hooks:

The Bio teacher tells of his experiences with his child taken ill over the holiday weekend. The Physics teacher shows a video on a man who possesses metaphysical powers. These stories engaged the students, it made them listen, it made them want to know more and the battle for the teacher is won; he has gotten the class over on his side. They will enjoy the lesson and when they enjoy they lessons, they will learn.

As a History teacher myself, I wonder how my students can become more interested in what they learn. Do the see the relevance? Can the relate to the ideas? Do they ask why they are studying about the Russian Civil War or about the Locarno Treaties? Do they feel that what they learn has little relevance?

Why do the students relate less to History? Is it because it is about the history of Singapore? Is it because it is about the historiography of Sngapore? Is it because of the readings? Is it too abstract? Is it because they were given choices to make which eventually would not have changed the course of history? Is academic choice meaningful choice?

The case for relevance cannot be overstated. When students do not see the relevance, they become disengaged. Here is a great bunch of students enjoying their options where they get to pay a board game known as Power Grid and then identify the economic concepts and principles that guided their thinking. What a way to get invovled!