10 Ways to Make Education Relevant
Students need to feel that what they are being taught has a purpose in their lives. Therefore, it is the job of teachers to make their lessons relevant to their students. Following are ten ways to accomplish this while increasing motivation and interest in your lessons.
01. Make Real World Connections
This seems simple, but often requires extra investigative work on the part of the teacher. Instead of simply teaching about a topic, find examples of how people use this information in the real world.
02. Use Hands-On Learning Wnen You Can
When students can handle objects and artifacts and conduct experiments, their learning is enriched. Sadly, the older students get the less these are included in many classes. However, many students are tactile and kinesthetic learners, and these can really help them. Try to include specific hands-on learning situations as often as you can.
03. Plan Field Trips Wisely
Field trips should be based on educational objectives. When you choose to take students on a field trip, you can provide them with an experience that emphasizes that relevance of the information you are learning in class to the world at large. However, you need to make sure and provide them with a framework for this information or it could be lost in the excitement of the day.
04. Get Guest Speakers
Bringing a guest speaker into your class is a great way to not only connect with your students but also show them how someone from the 'real world' uses the information that you are teaching in your classroom. In addition, guest speakers can bring a new point of view to your classroom which you can use in future lessons.
05. Institute Project Based Learning
Project-based learning starts with a real world problem in mind. Students are given a question or task that they need to complete. The best projects are multi-layered and include opportunities for research, community involvement, and the creation of a product that allows having a degree of independence. These can be challenging to create, but when done well they are quite effective and motivating for students.
06. Start With a Real World Problem In Mind
When you sit down to write a lesson, try and think of a real world question that individuals from your field had to answer to discover the information you are teaching. Say you are teaching about the methods for amending the Constitution. Instead of simply pointing out the different ways it can be done, start with a question that you pose to the students such as, "Should a country's Constitution be easy or hard to amend?" Once the students have discussed this for a bit, ask them to come up with ways that the US government could institute to make it difficult but not impossible to amend the Constitution. Lead the students through the process of ensuring that it is fair for everyone. In this way, a simple bit of information that is easily learned and then quickly forgotten gains much more relevance for the students.
07. Use Primary Sources
Rather than have students simply read about something in a textbook, send them directly to the source material. For example, using photographs in history classes can be quite enlightening for students and teachers alike. When students read about child labor and tenements in a textbook, they do not get the same feel for what life was like as if they were looking at actual pictures of these children and their living conditions.
08. Use Simulations
Simulations mimic real life events. Simulations have the benefit of immersing students into the topics you are teaching. Learning about stocks takes on a new meaning when students are involved in a Stock Market Game where they 'buy and sell' real stocks and maintain a portfolio over the course of the term.
09. Give Real World Rewards
Real world rewards provide students with huge incentives to achieve. Displaying or publishing student work is a great way to get them involved and motivated. In addition, there are a number of contests and competitions for students to enter in classes across the curriculum. Examples of these range from essay contests to competitions like the Real World Design Challenge.
10. Encourage Students to Look for Their Own Connections
Give incentives like extra credit for students who bring in examples from the real world that relate to what you are teaching in class. Many connections can be found in newspapers and magazines if students look hard enough.