Why Do I Have to Learn X?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Frager, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Frager

    Frager New Member

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    Sep 20, 2007

    I'm curious how you all respond to this question, and I'd like a little background information too, if you don't mind.

    1. What grade/subject do you teach?

    2. Do you teach in public or private school?

    3. How do (or would) you respond to students when they ask, "Why do I have to learn this?"

    I'm not necessarily looking for "good" answers, but rather the actual answers that you would give.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 20, 2007

    Grade 2, public school.

    I don't have that question often. I seek to engage my students in whatever we are doing and convey my enthusiasm about the subject matter so they tend to get motivated and equally excited about learning whatever I am teaching...Also somewhere in my lesson is a link to what they already know or a connection to their lives as well as some kind of explaination as to why we are learning it (2nd graders did you ever notice that when you are reading you get to tricky words and you aren't sure what to do with those words? Well today we are going to learn a strategy to solve some of those tricky words...)
     
  4. Corndog

    Corndog Rookie

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    why?

    I teach 9th grade at a high school. My class is weird and takes a lot to explain. Sufice to say it's skills, into to Psychological concepts, and learning stuff. Anyway, I figure that with anything we do we shuold be able to explain why. I often find, however, that because of NCLB that I say "not something you need for life, but for this test". They respect when I tell them that. Plus, I make it my habit to explain the purpose of what I am doing. There is no reason that they shouldn't expect this of us, and it forces me to make valuable lessons instead of trying to "fluff" something up. But if you can't justify teaching it, then why are you teaching it? If you don't know that might be something to talk to a curriculum director about.
     
  5. ValinFW

    ValinFW Comrade

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    I teach 6th and 8th grade English in a public school. My usual response is, "So you can communicate with other people in an intelligent manner, whether you are speaking to them or writing to them."
     
  6. trina

    trina Companion

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    I teach 6th, 7th, 8th grade science, 6th grade language, and 7th grade literature in a private Christian school. This is my second year.

    My response to that question is always "Tell me a time when it is good to be ignorant."
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Bottom line is, if we possess a mental tool we can use it, and if we don't, we can't. There are many, many areas in which I'm not a specialist, but I can help people find answers and make sense of them in those areas. It's also a whole lot more fun to know and be able to do than to be in the dark.
     
  8. Ms. Geography

    Ms. Geography Comrade

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    7th grade social studies

    Public school - I taught geography only for the last 13 years and now teach both geography & early world history. Many times I've had students ask why? My response is that since we live in a WWW dot com world they should know the world.
     
  9. MsTeacher98

    MsTeacher98 Companion

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    Right now I teach 6-8 FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) but usually teach Language Arts. For FACS, I usually say something along the lines of, you need this to know how to handle real life. For LA, I say something about communication and such For the kids who are absolutely, positively going to the NBA/NFL, I let them know how helpful it will be to be able to read their contracts and not get tricked and how many more endoresements they'll get for being able to communicate effectively. :D
     
  10. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I like Trina's answer.

    "Because some day you will be on Jeopardy or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and you'll get something right because you learned it in this room, and I'm counting on you to share the money with me because it would only be right."

    "Because the world already has more than its fair share of ignorant people, and I refuse to let you join that club."

    To be perfectly honest, I do not think that "Because it's on the test" is ever a good response. How about, "Because it's a life skill, and you never know when life skills might be tested. It might be today, it might be tomorrow, it might be forty years from now, or it might be next week during Period Five. Do you want a good life or not?"
     
  11. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    When I have been in a room of older students I have given the very complex answer of:
    The community expects kids to go to school. When you graduate the school is saying that you have a general knowledge of things and are prepared to be a part of society. While some specific concepts may not be used in each job you will have, other members of society expect you to have a similar common education. They expect that someone who works with words, such as a writer, to still be able to calculate a weekly salary.

    The actual speech varies in length and specifics, but that is the outline. Younger grades get either a lesson on how things build on each other (you need to learn to do this now so that eventually you can ---). The very littlest ones get "so you can learn to read" which covers almost everything in kindergarten and always works :lol: That is, if they even ask!
     
  12. Bobunny

    Bobunny New Member

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    It's all about Connection

    I teach middle school and high school language arts in a public school. In language arts the why question usually centers around a particular novel or story the students have to read. I steer clear of the "because" argument. I used to think the "it helps you become well rounded" was a good one. Now I leave the question open...have them find the connection or the relevancy. I make it part of the reading, part of the quest to find why it's meaningful. I have explained how I found meaning, for myself. The key is having them make the connection and realizing it's not the same one that their neighbor will make...and that's ok.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Good point, Bobunny.

    And welcome to A to Z!
     
  14. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I teach 9, 10, 11 English in a public vocational school. Public but they have to apply to get in. I get this question a lot because my kids are training for their careers and they don't see how Romeo and Juliet ties in with being a plumber. My response is always, why would you pass up the opportunity to learn ANYTHING? Anything I teach you just makes you that much more intelligent. That usually shuts them up.
     
  15. Corndog

    Corndog Rookie

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    Sep 23, 2007

    I struggle with the "when is it okay to be ignorant" response. No offense, but I'm ignorant of how a lot of things happen and I'm fine. If you look at that answer through the eyes of a high school kid what do you think their reaction will be? they're gonna think it's a bull answer. They aren't going to accept that. I do agree that when they know how to learn, and we are in a www.com world as mentioned, that they need to know how to attain information. That's the key. I just remember when I got that "because I said so" answer, which I would equate with "when is it okay to be ignorant" and know that I would roll my eyes and figure the teacher was giving me the stock answer instead of really thinking about it and trying to give me a genuine answer.
     
  16. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I should say that when I give my kids the "why would you pass up the change to learn anything?" speech, it is usually after I try to give them a more direct answer and they still don't think it applies to them.
     
  17. teach24iam

    teach24iam Comrade

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    because I said so....lol..just kidding :)
     
  18. Frager

    Frager New Member

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    Sep 25, 2007

    Thanks for the answers; keep them coming

    Thank you, everyone, for your answers so far.

    Note that I am trying to get a survey of how you all actually answer this question, as opposed to trying to get advice. So, if your answer is, "Because I say so", or even, "I don't have a clue what to say", that's fine for my purposes. It isn't my intention that you critique each other's answers (I'd actually rather you didn't, as that may discourage honest answers, which is what I'm looking for).

    Thanks again!
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 25, 2007

    You're doing research, then?
     
  20. mathman

    mathman Rookie

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    Read Below

    1.I sub teach in NYC.

    2.I sub in public schools.

    3-If the subject is math, tell them that math is found in every field. It is necessary to learn at least the basics of math to find success in life. People that do poorly in math, do not exceed in technical fields where the money is great.
     
  21. Frager

    Frager New Member

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    Yes, I'm doing research but not of an official sort (I'm not an academic writing a paper or something). It's more curiosity.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Then I'll keep cheerfully eavesdropping: this is an interesting question.
     
  23. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I teach World History & World Geography to 9-12 graders. I answer that question with the same approach at Bobunny - you tell me why you need to know this. It leads to some VERY important and interesting answers.
     
  24. soccer14

    soccer14 Rookie

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    I teach 9-12 math to cross cat special ed. group. I tell my students that they will use this directly in the real word but for somethings that don't apply I say it helps with their problem solving skills.
     
  25. mathman

    mathman Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2007

    Math In Real-Life

    Actually, algebra is used everyday as we go shopping but most people don't realize the importance of math. Complicated math concepts help develope attention to detail, which most people lack as I witnessed throughout my boot camp training in the Navy.
     
  26. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I just read about Aesthetical Learning( I think that's what it's called) apparently this helps with these type of why must I learn this

    there is a website... I will look
     
  27. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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