The Graduate Manifesto of George Cassutto
The Challenge of Teaching
Each life on Earth is unique. The individual gathers experiences, and if growth and positive changes in behavior result from the aggregate of those experiences, learning has taken place. Such learning can be experiential or academic. The bottom line is that at one point in time, the sum total of experiences is surpassed by a greater total, thereby leading to a greater awareness of the world around us.
There are those of us who have chosen to go into the teaching profession. The reasons for such a choice are myriad and have an impact on the subject area and grade level that we teach. One universal aspect of all those who teach is that we hope to pass on what we know to others. It may be academic or empirical knowledge that we wish to impart. Or we may be hoping to help young people become positive, socialized contributors to society. The challenge is that the institution we call "school" is not always set up to facilitate this process. In fact, because the factory model of modern education involves some sort of work ethic, the process of teaching and learning often becomes adversarial. It seems all to often that teachers are "pulling teeth," trying to get students do something they would rather not be doing. Students always seem to want to be doing something other than learning. This is because the system has designed learning in such a way that students just don't want to do it. This seems to be true on levels starting in pre-school, though to a lesser degree, through post-graduate studies, though to a lesser degree. It seems in the middle school and high school years, getting students to learn for the sake of learning (because it is something they love and want to do for its intrinsic rewards) is the hardest thing to achieve.
It is incumbent on teachers to design lessons that are relevant to the lives of students, even if it means making a remote connection between some aspect of an academic subject and the contemporary existence of young people.
|If students engaged in learning activities that were meaningful and fun, the job of teachers would be infinitely easier, and in turn the job would become more meaningful and fun. It is incumbent on teachers to design lessons that are relevant to the lives of students, even if it means making a remote connection between some aspect of an academic subject and the contemporary existence of young people. In the words of Dr. Priscilla Norton, this is where "authentic activities" come in to play. The interest level and motivation of high school students who see that their learning activities have relevance in their lives, either at that time or in the future, will go up because they see the value in the work that they are doing. It is through these innovative activities that teachers can have a real, positive impact on their students, arriving at useful learning that has future application in the lives of the people they teach.|
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