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As educators we wish to have the students gain knowledge, through our efforts, and continue to expand their minds using the basics we have taught them. In an era when so many outside interests often cloud the minds of our impressionable youth, we often wonder how we can accomplish this task.
Our society has become increasingly chaotic in comparison to how it was in my fathers time. With an increase in violence, commercialism, and two working parents, children today don't have the same structure in their lives as they did in earlier times. This lack of structure, viewed as independence, places the child in a role more similar to that of an adult. There is an expectation that our children will function as child and the guardian at the same time. Children arrive home and frequently no one is there to greet them or remind them of their responsibilities as a student. Many parents have little or no involvement at all with their children's education at all. According to Rousseau, not being involved or staying passive until the child wants to learn an idea, is the correct method. I hate to say that we need to force a student to learn, but not everyone is self motivated. A student does need to have some control, but the control needs to be structured. Parents need to be involved. Study habits are not developed just at school, they are also developed at home, with the parent supervising the activity. The parent need to allot time periods where the student, or hopefully the student and the parent can sit down and develop thinking skills and communicate their ideas to one another. By teaching children the value of stimulating their minds all the time, not just at school, they will appreciate the knowledge they have gained and will be more alert when learning new ideas.
As an educator we need to find ways to make concepts interesting to our students. Think about the instructor who stands in front of the classroom and scribbles on the board, completely oblivious to the students sitting in the classroom. The bright students may still do well under these conditions, but the other students often become bored. Is it the responsibility of the students to pay attention to the instructor or is it the responsibility of the instructor to pay attention to the class?
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One way to get everyone's attention is to make learning FUN! Put away the textbooks every once in a while and let the students jump up and down, then illustrate the phenomena known as gravity. Let students take a bunch of soda straws and bunch them together, then have them look through them. You have shown them a mosaic pattern that is much like what a dragonfly sees with his compound eyes. Have two groups of students learn two different ideas that are somehow related to each other. Now have the students form small groups, made up of one person from each original group, and have them teach each other what they have learned. The best way to ensure that you understand an idea is to teach it to someone else. This activity would reinforce ideas and it would stimulate abstract thought as the students put the two ideas together. The students need to be involved in their education. They need to do more that just sit and memorize. Get the students involved. Ask them questions about what they have learned. Make sure that all of the students understand the concepts that you are trying to teach. Again, I emphasize the word FUN. If school is boring for the student and equally boring for the educator it becomes an environment that encourages outside interests.
We as educators have a responsibility to our students to make learning as enjoyable and positive as we possibly can. We should make every effort to involve the parents and stress to them the importance of homework, and the value of learning new ideas and expanding on old ones. Together we can make school a place where negative outside influences don't encroach on the students ability to learn.