Why Do I Need to Know This?
Do you ever get that question when helping your students learn or helping your children understand their homework? I have a daughter who is in college. She recently went to a seminar about Twitter. This seminar was given by an invited speaker at a business fraternity meeting. She says she was bored stiff. In the end, the speaker mentioned that this was the first time he had ever given this particular talk to college students. He said that he normally taught 40-50 year olds. My daughter says that she realized the problem immediately. He had spent an hour telling them, step by step, how to use Twitter when they all could have figured it out on their own in about ten minutes. What they wanted to understand was why they’d want to use Twitter and how it would help in their career. I saw this as a wonderful example of how kids learn differently these days and how some teaching methods need to switch gears. This speaker’s baby boomer audience wanted step by step instructions. His college audience was bored by that.
I ended my last blog by mentioning my need to teach my son about transient and intransient verbs. He too asked the question, “Why do I need to know this?” I have to admit that I struggled with the answer. It was clear to him that I’d made it through life without this knowledge so he figured he could too. It definitely created a blockage in his desire to learn.
Switching gears, school administrators may also want to consider answering, “Why?” when they introduce new rules, procedures, curricula, etc. People don’t really like change unless there’s good reason for it. If you can successfully convince faculty and staff why change is needed, you’ve won half the battle for that change to be successful. Similarly, if teachers can successfully explain the, “Why?” to today’s students, I think they’ve won half the battle as well.