New Teachers

Is what I'm teaching important?

How do you explain to your students what your teaching is important even when there is no obvious real-world application?

Bryan Mahaffey
Bryan Mahaffey
217 Activity Points

I would find a real world application so I could be prepared for that scenario!

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
92329 Activity Points

Hello Bryan,

I’m sure every teacher has heard this refrain!

I found that students question what we teach when it is dull and repetitive.  So, trying different strategies may work.

You can appeal to them on a philosophical level:  explain to them that most of us don’t know what may be personally useful in the future. 

History of science is full of discoveries that were ahead of their time.  It took time and the right people to reveal the importance or usefulness of that knowledge.  Classic stories you can relate to your students: Michael Faraday and electromagnetism; Wilhelm Roentgen and x-rays; Alexander Flemming and penicillin; and many more.

My favorite is Christian Doppler who, in 1847, studied and determined why sound coming towards you is higher pitched than when it moves away from you (think race cars).  Twenty years later astronomers discovered that the light from stars followed the “Doppler Effect” and they could identify stars moving away or toward our solar system. In 1929, Edwin Hubble’s observations of galaxies indicated that they were all moving away from each other at ever-increasing velocity.  This is the basis for the “Big Bang” theory which part of our current model of the universe.  From Doppler who was interested in why train whistles changed pitch as they rushed passed we now have the current theory of cosmos!

As a last resort, you can always just say the people who write curriculum felt it was important to understand. They can always complain to the government.

Hope this helps!

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
4174 Activity Points

I know I asked this question various times when I was a student. At the time, I couldn't understand why we were being taught something and sometimes when I'm teaching I don't know why I'm teaching what I'm teaching.  This sounds bad but I do believe some of the content we are required to teach is unnecessary. I appreciate the philosophical approach you provided for I too have thought of a similiar response. For most of my students, they need/require a physical and less conceptual response. 

 

 

 

Bryan Mahaffey
Bryan Mahaffey
217 Activity Points

Yes!  We teach some stuff to kids that makes no sense.  There is a portion of our curriculum that is more political and traditional rather than practical and useful.  (Don't get me started on math!)

In my experience, the students begin questioning curriculum when they are writing interminable notes or working through long worksheets.  So, try to approach those sections differently! Kind of like putting lipstick on a pig!

Regards,

Gabe

 

 

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
4174 Activity Points

Gabe, thanks for the advice. I will try to approach these topics from a different angle when the time comes. 

Thanks,

Bryan

Bryan Mahaffey
Bryan Mahaffey
217 Activity Points

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