How to Help Your Students See the Value of Education

Author: Rich Atkinson

Calvin and Hobbes, a newspaper comic published from 1985 thru 1995, follows a precocious six-year-old boy and his toy stuffed tiger (Hobbes) on their adventures.

In one comic, we see Calvin imagining what his school day is like as he experiences it. In one scene, he is placed on a conveyor belt as green liquid glugs into his brain. In the last panel, Calvin’s stuffed tiger greets him with a question, “Another Typical School Day?”

Help Your Students See the Value of Education

Like Calvin, some students are bored or have the wrong idea about school. Calvin sees school as an information factory. But how do we help move our students to see it as transformational?

Helping Students Think Critically.
Engage your students with questions, not just information. Blend Bloom’s Taxonomy into your lessons to develop their critical thinking skills. Start with concrete questions, then shift to abstract. Here are three types of questions for a lesson:

  1. Content Questions:
    Content questions help students understand the essential information and definitions. Bloom’s Taxonomy lists this stage of learning with knowledge and comprehension. For instance, with science, you might ask, “What is gravity?“ and “Who is Issac Newton?”
  2. Thought Questions:
    Thought questions help compare and contrast a topic. For instance, you might ask, “How does gravity affect us on earth?” or “How does zero gravity affect astronauts preparing meals at the space station?”
  3.  Application Questions:
    Now that your students know the basics about gravity and can compare and contrast what gravity is like on earth versus the International Space Station, help them take the next step. Have them watch Zero Gravity (Official Trailer) about a group of California middle schoolers who compete in a nationwide tournament. The students in the “Zero Gravity” film are performing an application question: “How would I write code for satellites aboard the International Space Station?”

Besides helping your students think critically, there are other ways to help them . . .

Helping Students Process Information

  1. Find out your students’ Learning Styles by conducting this quiz in your classroom. This tool will help kids choose the learning methods they prefer. Knowing their preferred learning style (kinesthetic, auditory, or visual), should help them succeed.
  2. Vary your teaching methods. The Cone of Experience diagram (1969, see page 3) lists many audio-visual options for your instruction. Today, we have many more choices and methods. See the International School Project blog post “Tech Savvy Teachers” for additional information.
  3. Help your students stay focused. Peruse the Michigan State study about how attention spans waver during class. Use this information to keep your students from zoning out.

Educator William Arthur Ward said, “The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” May these suggestions help you inspire your students, even those who are bored or have a different view of school like Calvin!

About the Author

Rich AtkinsonRich Atkinson began his writing career with a community paper in Ohio.

He has worked for a magazine. Travel assignments have taken him outside the country to Haiti and Guatemala. In the U.S., he has journeyed to Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee, and many other places for feature stories.

When not writing, Rich finds time to read and enjoys listening to authors discuss writing on podcasts and in YouTube videos.

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