Some educators are looking for ways to link curriculum to student’s interests and concerns about identity, connectedness and power.
Engaging students in lessons taps into their interests. One example is where language arts teachers select books that apply to the concerns of students.
Most excellent teachers have learned what first-rate filmmakers have always known, that to be successful you need to reach your audience emotionally. I want to revisit one of the best approaches I know, emphasizing its application at the secondary school level. The purpose is to increase student motivation and foster healthy emotional development by engaging students.
Teachers know that making lessons relevant helps motivate students. The most frequent approach is to link curriculum to students’ interests. As an example, if kids are interested in hip-hop music or in competitive sports and you weave those into your lessons, you’ll increase student motivation.
But two educators, Mario Fantini and Gerry Weinstein, in two now out-of-print books, Making Urban Schools Work and Towards Humanistic Education, pointed out that it would be more effective to link curriculum to the concerns of learners. (You can find used copies of both through Book Finder.) What do kids worry about? What anxieties sometimes keep them up at night? What peer interactions churn up their emotions? How do they deal with their fears about the future, college admissions, employment or bullying?
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