Students should not be the driving force of lesson planning

Piers YoungNotesLeave a Comment

From Daniel Willingham’s excellent “Why Don’t Students like School?” (which I suspect I’ll be quoting more from):

I’ve always been bothered by the advice “make it relevant to the students", for two reasons.  First, it often feels to me that it doesn;t apply.  Is the Epic of Gilgamesh relevant to the students in any way they understand right now?  Is trigonometry?  Making these topics relevant to students’ lives will be a strain, and students will probably think it’s phony.  Second, if I can;t convince students that some material is relevant, does that mean I shouldn’t teach it?  If I’m continually trying to build bridges between students’ daily lives and their school subjects, the students may get the message that school is always about them, whereas I think their is value, interest and beauty in learning about things that don’t have much to do with me.  What I’m suggesting is that students should not be the main force of lesson planning.  Rather, they might be used as initial points of contact that help students understand the main ideas you want them to consider, rather than as the reason or motivation for them to consider these ideas.

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