Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Why do I have to study [Fill in the Blank]?

A few weeks ago, as my all boys class was presenting their PLN entries, one student presented an interesting reaction regarding what classes are necessary for students to take in high school. This student felt that classes such as history, math, etc… were not relevant to high school students, but rather that in high school, students should be able to take classes that address their future careers. We talked about this for some time since many others have written about this in the educational blog-o-sphere as well as this student’s classmates had some insights of their own to offer. I was really surprised and amazed how many students are quite adamant about what classes students should and should not have to take in school. There are a number of my boys who feel that math is a ridiculous subject to take (trigonometry seems to be their focal point), history is outdated and is just a bunch of facts( why do we learn about stuff from the past), and I even had one student in particular who thought that learning how to write well was meaningless (my heart broke right there).

With this conversation, I asked the kids what jobs they are interested in the future. Therapists, counselors, police officers, culinary arts, meteorologists, biologists, bio technology, chemical engineer, astronauts, graphic designers, special operations forces were among the group. What puzzled me was not only that the one boy in particular found no relevance in writing being part of his journey towards his career as a counselor and therapist, but that many of the kids don’t see a point to their learning in high school. Which begs the question I hear from my own kids one of whom is 9 and the other is 8: “Why do I have to study [Fill in the Blank]?”

I wonder as a teacher, parent, woman, valued member of society, etc… what kind of job are we doing in education, if kids don’t see the relevance to what we are spending 59 minutes per day, 5 days per week, 36 weeks per year over 13 years? What am I doing if this boy thinks he doesn’t need to know how to write well? Is it he doesn’t see writing as a valuable form of communication? Is it because he has no frame of reference in regards to his future job? Do I need to hook up each of these kids with someone in their dream profession to see why they need History, Math, Language Arts, PE, etc…? What do I need to do in my own classroom so that my boys see the relevance and purpose behind being able to write, read, listen and communicate effectively? I want them to be able to fill in their own blanks.

No comments: