This week’s #YourEduStory challenge is to describe how we excite passion and curiosity in our students.
From my thirteen years of educational experience, I have found one way that works better than the others.
And that is relevancy.
I have found that if I present topics with enthusiasm or excitement, I get students somewhat interested. If I give them choice, they get somewhat excited. However, if I connect historical topics to current events, especially any that relate to technology businesses, they are completely engaged. I believe that part of this is the fact that they live in the Silicon Valley, and part of it is that technology is their life. They love hearing analogies that compare Steve Jobs to Samuel Slater and the first textile mills. They love to compare declining powers to Microsoft. I have also found that comparing older politics to contemporary politics engages them as well–they love to learn that Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were involved in scandals long before Benghazi or emailgate. There is nothing so exciting like learning that historical figures were not saints.
We must give students autonomy and purposeful goals in their learning. These are worthy strategies and are essential for engagement. But without relevancy, why learn?