Have you ever asked your students why they think they’re attending school? Try it. You’ll get some interesting answers. Yesterday I posed this question to one of my classes, curious what their responses might be. I found my students had great scripted answers, such as “to get an education” or “to make my parents proud.” I even received a few “because its the law.” Interestingly though, as we dug deeper into these responses few students could explain why attending school today is important to their future goals.
This is something I’ve been wrestling with for quite a while. How do we convince our students education is important and their academic success directly correlates to post-high school and career goals? I feel like its one of the “pink elephants” in the room we aren’t addressing. We use a variety of strategies and technology to keep our students engaged, but we seem to never really answer the question, “Why are we here?” How long can we keep kids engaged with not answering this question? If middle and high school students better understood the path they were on would they change their behavior and feelings towards school? Our students are in many ways our customers, but have we helped them understand why they should be shopping at our store?
These are just some questions flowing through my mind. In a few weeks the semester will end and I will receive a new crop of students. I’d like to start the spring semester off answering these questions with some sort of student-focused, inquiry-based activity, but I’m still not sure how I will do it. Have you answered this questions for your students? How did you answer it? What was the response? Suggestions?