Why do children lose interest in school and what can we, as parents and teachers, do about it? Apparently our new Federal Minister for Education, Mr Christopher Pyne wants to return to fact based learning. When I read this line I felt like crying – but then I consoled myself, perhaps he’d been misquoted.
After all, how could a man involved in the foundation of Headspace get the concept of learning in the 21st century so wrong. No, there must be some mistake.
Surely our new minister realises life beyond the school gates requires more than facts, competition and high stakes testing. He must know our children need the tools of learning. They also need the confidence, flexibility and proactive attitude to use those tools. And, they need to know who they are, where they are and where they want to go.
Perhaps this is why too many of our teenagers lose interest in school. They lose interest in school because they don’t know where it will lead. They can’t see the relevance of their classes.
Now this doesn’t mean the classes are irrelevant. Instead it means that the students haven’t had the opportunity to develop an understanding of themselves and their goals. Since they haven’t developed personal awareness, they struggle to find personal relevance and without an ability to see the value in learning, it is difficult to learn self regulation and self motivation.
So, how can we as parents and teachers help our kids stay interested in school?
Not by doing what we’ve done before – not by throwing money at all things bright and shiny. Not by following some big technology splurge. Not by returning to the good ol’ days of facts and rote memory. Not by testing and measuring. Not by cramming an already crowded curriculum with one-off feel good programs.
We need a valuable approach.
We can help our kids stay interested in school by moving toward opportunity. We can help them recognise the relevance and value of school by giving them the chance to get to know themselves better.
By allowing them to learn how to recognise their own thoughts, emotions, values and dreams. By supporting their search for a place within societies fabric. And by giving them the tools of learning – critical, creative and emotional literacy and, functional numeracy.
These skills need to be embed into the curriculum. They need to be as day-to-day as morning recess. The wonderful news is they can be, and it doesn’t require adding to the curriculum. It simply requires a different way of looking at things. If we focus on the students and what they need, facts become relevant.
I’d love to know what you think? How could you use the facts you know to help a teenager learn more about themselves? How can you help them see the personal relevance of facts? I do it through stories.
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