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“Why Do I Need to Learn This?”

For Those Who Teach

“Why Do I Need to Learn This?”

It always takes me longer than I plan when I do anything with my books. I look for one book and see another I haven’t looked at for a while. I look for something in a book and find something else of interest. Case in point: I’m unpacking my books after a recent move, and Don Finkel’s Teaching with Your Mouth Shut (2000) emerges.

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  1. Mike Gray June 8, 2020

    Every academic discipline was invented to answer a group of compelling questions. If those questions are made compelling for this generation of students and answered in satisfying ways through an appeal to powerful ideas (not stale un-prioritized content), the desire to learn will typify students in the course.

  2. Perry Shaw June 8, 2020

    So often we answer the question “Why do I need to learn this?” based on wishful thinking, or with answers that convince us as experts in the discipline. But our answers are unconvincing to our students. Knowing the life narratives of our students, and having them discuss possible ways in which their narratives might connect with the content, will inevitably change our approach to the subject.

  3. Perry Shaw June 8, 2020

    In my course syllabus I do not begin with the Learning Outcomes (which are generally the outcomes I as instructor desire), but with a “Purpose Statement” – why this course may be important for the students in their life and/or work. This statement is generally constructed in close dialogue with the students themselves. When I do this well, student engagement is notably higher.

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