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Ultimately, this is up to the student and family. One way we can reach students is by reaching their parents. Another way is to focus on their goals for the future, and show them how having an education is the only way to accomplish them.
Students will value education and think it is important always when educators connect the real world to what is taught in the classroom. Activate prior knowlege, discuss, make a lesson relevant, all of these types of strategies will connect learning to the world. It is much like why the classics are still read and loved today. The classic works of fiction are relatable to modern readers because a modern reader can find contemporary connections to themes in literature. For example, in "Hamlet," the protagonist is at odds with his step-father. How many students can relate to this issue? Make a lesson relevant and students will see why learning is important.
A master teacher knows how to help students find these connections. This is the real difference between an experienced teacher and a master teacher (Harry Wong.)
Teachers can make kids more interested in school, and can influence their knowledge base and their study habits to some degree, but influencing their values is a much more difficult proposition. If I were going to try it anyway, I would say showing students some relevance to your subject. Connecting what you teach to the after high school world as often as possible. We can also offer them examples of what thw world is like without an education. To do this most effectively involves getting them out of the classroom more often.
Something I've worked very hard to do in all of my classrooms is make personal/life applications to my lessons. What students today have largely lost is the value of being able to think, problem-solve, and communicate. I'm a big fan of personal stories with my classes, and anytime I can tie in human stupidity to these stories and get my students laughing first, it drives home my ultimate point of "thinking as a discipline and habit."
I agree with other posts that we teachers cannot be solely responsible for this, however, with the right kinds of relationships with students, and earning both their respect and general like of us, we can certainly be more successful in everything we teach.
One of my greatest frustrations with education as it often happens is that there is little sense of connectedness between disciplines. That is, what students learn in, say, science, stays in science; and what a student learns in history stays in history--and never the twain shall meet, as they say. No wonder students get bored and frustrated with the stuff they're learning--none of it is connected to anything in their lives in a way that makes sense. There's not always a great answer to the age-old student question "why do I have to know this" (or another version, "why does this matter to me?"). Teachers can and should do a better job of making learning relevant and connected. That's only one part, of course; parents must demonstrate (model) the value of an education, and students must quit waiting for everything to be dumbed down to a video-game level before they'll spend any energy on it. Good question. I'll be back to see what others have to say about this one.
I too agree that it generally is only going to happen for the right person at the right time, and not even the most amazing teacher can teach everyone to value an education.
I do think there are some things we could change to make it more likely, but they would require some pretty big changes system-wide and some much more manageable ones in the classroom.
One of the first is getting rid of the idea of a "teacher" as an authority on a certain subject. Sure there are authorities on certain things out there, but they got to that position by asking questions and being willing to go seek answers when they didn't know. We need to teach students that kind of a routine instead of this absurd idea of a teacher, particularly a high-school one, being the person with all the answers.
We need to help them understand that failure or not knowing are vital to learning. That being willing to admit being wrong is also vital, these are somewhat contrary to the current system of trying to have everything come down to a right answer on one test, but they are possible...
In my opinion, teachers cannot do this for the vast majority of students. The only people who can do this are people that the students really respect and whose opinions they value.
What this means is that it is going to be different for everyone. For many students, the influence will be their parents. Growing up, they will know that their parents value education and so they will value it as well. For others, it may be friends -- they may need to have friends who value education in order for them to be convinced that it matters.
Sadly, I think many students simply don't have any role models like that. Also sadly, you can't just designate role models. It might work to have students assigned to "big brother" or "big sister" types, but those people will have to win the respect of the student if they are to have any effect.
in my opinion i find that the best teachers are the ones who express confidence and show a great interest in their subject/work. they involve the students and try to form connections with them building strong student-to-teacher relationships.
they have control of the class however do not do this pointedly as to make the student feel bored and stuck. the class should be involving, and creatively unique.
in my opinion the strength of the teacher determines the students willingness to learn. for example i have this english teacher who is clearly incharge and has power over the class however is friendly enough to gain interest from students, to connect with students and to have them wish to impress him. he is constantly pushing the students to acheive and is the most encouraging teacher i have ever seen.
as a student, obviously i see a lot of teachers in their proffesion and can say that with the exception of one or two, students are always willing to learn and do value there overall education.
I think that as educators we have a HUGE impact on the lives of our students (far more than we may imagine). We should make optimum use of the time spent with them ... well planned lessons, clearly defined goals and exposure to creative thinking will certainly re-ignite the desire to learn & discover new worlds.
that's generateD... sorry, that's what I get for not reading over what I typed!
I think we do this by having the students consider their goals (or create goals if they do not have them). Then, they need to understand the connection between education and those goals. Unless they happen to be the 1 in several million people who will make a fortune on their looks or natural talent, they need an education if they do not want to live in poverty. That's the simple answer...
Curiousity, lust for knowledge, a sense of competition among peers... these must be generate on ones own.
... teachers cannot do this ... The only people who can do this are people that the students really respect and whose opinions they value. - Pohnpei, Post #2.
I think we are putting the cart before the horse. Teachers are the mainstay of any education system. If teachers want the students to value the education, they must accept the responsibility for winning the respect of students and establishing their value in eyes of the students.
Their are good teachers and not so good teachers. Students respect and value good teachers. It will be nice if students respected the not so good teachers also. This will make it easier for students to accept and benefit more from the education that is not entirely to their liking. But demanding respect is not an acceptable alternative to winning respect.
We must differentiate between education and education system. All parents must inculcate in their children a healthy respect for education. But insisting on children to respect those aspects of an education system that do not deserve respect may be counter productive.
There's no sure fire way. Being a student myself, I have learned that showing the student how much fun the subject can be (the only way to teach them this is to do it yourself. They won't learn it on their own). If you really open up and build a sense of community in your classroom, you're sure to get students to value their education a lot more.
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