Connecting Ideas, Connecting People

An Educator's Lifelong Learning Journey.

The Relevancy of Education

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My very first post is in response to parental concerns towards education ( http://weblogg-ed.com/2010/a-parent-20s-back-to-school-dilemma/ ).  The concern is that school is NOT preparing children for the world that lies ahead of them.  Imagine that you are the teacher and that during parent-teacher night you are asked: “What are you doing so that my child will live to their full potential, avoid life threatening diseases, raise a family, sustain a living… ?” These are very big expectations.  We cannot say for sure what shape the world will take.  Although teachers are being held accountable for student learning, curricular expectations alone cannot meet the demands of our changing world.  Learning must be meaningful.

To put this into perspective,  here is an example.  To what extent do grades matter to students?  A student can be so focused on the outcome of an assessment, that they often lose sight of the skills, knowledge and experiences they can develop over the course of their lives.  You have probably been guilty of this scenario when a paper is returned to you and you go directly to the grade and fail to read the feedback (if any has been provided). It is the feedback that drives the learning process, not the grade.   So I guess the question is, who or what is determining what is seen as relevant in school?

We had a similar discussion in my Intermediate/Senior French course.  My professor suggested that we are losing our students interest in French because classes are being driven by textbooks that have no relevancy in their lives.   The subject must not only capture the interests of the students, but allow them to apply what they have learned outside of the classroom.  What is the benefit of conjugating the same verb on paper while filling in the blanks when you cannot readily use these verbs in a conversation?

So next time you find yourself in front of a course syllabus do you focus on how you will be evaluated OR the objectives?

Keep this in mind when you first step into a classroom as the teacher.  Do I want my students to learn how to play the game?

Author: Mrs. Baker

Certified Ontario Teacher who is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles. My goal is to develop a professional network that will help drive my life-long learning.

2 Comments

  1. That comment about the text not being relevant to the students really hit home for me. About a year and a half ago, I attended a conference of the Korea Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. There, I saw an excellent presentation where the speaker talked about this very subject.

    Many years ago, he had travelled to Poland to meet with other professionals to help them with their curriculum development in the field of English Language teaching. The director of the national educational institute asked him if he’d like to see their library whilst on a tour of a school. They proceeded to the basement and there he found thousands of textbooks donated by the American, Britain and Australian governments. Every single text book was brand new and not a single one seemed to have been used! He asked his guide why this was so and his answer was very telling: “We are very grateful for the donations but these books are useless for teaching our students. They talk about things like going camping or going to the mall to buy new jeans or an MP3 player. Most of the families of our students struggle to find enough money for food and the experiences in these books are so out of touch with our students’ lives that we’ve asked you here to help us with new development.”

    I thought this was so bang on and it was really something that I had never considered before. Maintaining your relevance is so key to teaching but it’s something that a lot of us take for granted. Goodness knows I don’t want to be the fuddy-duddy old geezer teacher who doesn’t have a clue what his students care about!

  2. Pingback: Blogging for Real Reform | PIPEDREAMS

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