Vicki Davis is doing great things in her classes. I loved reading about what her 10th graders are doing; they have picked an area of interest as a “major” for projects. She has excerpts from student blogs about golf course management and optometry. She has done a similar research project with her students in the past, but she hasn’t used this angle before. Here’s a great quote:
So, instead of just teaching about hardware, each student is looking at it from the lens of their future interest.
What I think really struck me in this is how she is engaging students by using their already existing motivation. I think students are quite motivated to learn, they just aren’t always motivated to learn what we’re teaching them. That’s the case in K-12, higher ed, and corporate learning. Students want to know what’s in it for them–and I think they have a right to know. We should have a reason for teaching the things we teach. If it doesn’t have relevance or won’t be useful to them, why don’t we just ditch it from the curriculum? I know, I know, it’s not that simple. It is a goal I am working towards in my own courses as I’m developing though.