Willing to learn?

How can I make students see this? asks Ricochet.

About Joanne


  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    Most all students are not interested in learning some of what is supposed to be taught. A larger number are not interested in a lot of what is supposed to be taught. And some are not interested in any of it.

    As long as we continue to tell students that they have to learn things that they have little inherent interest in, and as long as we cannot convince them it will be useful to them (partly because much of it won’t be), we will continue to fail.

  2. True, but we should be doing a much better job enabling the students who actually are motivated to get a decent education to do so. Just because they could theoretically overcome obstacles in their path doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility to offer them as clear a path as practical.

  3. The problem remains that students do not know what they need to have for their future.

    Partly, this is the fault of the educator’s but more importantly, parents have been lacking in this area for years, if not generations.

    Anyone who doesn’t understand that a high school diploma is the minimal need to survive in this society should not be around students.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      The bigger problem is that nobody knows what today’s young people need for their future. So we in the ed business take the easy way out. We teach shorter, easier versions of the courses we took in college–and believe that that is what they will need.

      The chances that this belief is true are just about zero.

      • I find it difficult to believe that literacy, numeracy, the ability to write clearly and correctly, and a basic understanding of the disciplines (literature, history, geography, civics, the sciences,statistics and economics etc.) will not be valuable for the future of today’s students.

      • Sean Mays says:

        Roger: I doubt we’ve EVER known what the younger generation will be facing. But I’m on board with Momof4 – it really IS the three R’s plus whatever other a couple applied disiplines (science, econ, etc). Cultural literacy? Good to have in a democracy, essential in a dictatorship I’m guessing. Everybody’s crystal ball is murky, but some things stand the test of time; of course, you can’t really sell many “new-fangled” textbooks to support the edu-consulting publishing complex. Some of this is just hard work, some people WON’t participate, but maybe we shouldn’t enable them

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        I agree that “literacy, numeracy, [and] the ability to write clearly and correctly” are very important. But beyond that we just can’t say–as evidenced by the fact that many relatively successful people have extremely sketchy knowledge about “literature, history, geography, civics, the sciences,statistics and economics etc” If it wasn’t needed in the past, what makes us think that it will be needed in the future? Certainly, we would have a much bigger group of interesting people to spend time with–but that’s a different thing.

        Right now we teach lots of academic courses that students aren’t interested in and which they almost completely forget after they take them. We also don’t take the time and make the effort to ensure that students are literate, numerate, and able to write clearly and correctly. That bothers me.

  4. This should be the starting point for all discussions of school reform.

  5. School reformers could learn a great deal from conceding this point.

    • Then how could McGraw-Hill and Pearson make boatloads of money? They need a constant stream of teacher-bashing and anti-teacher propaganda to sell their scripted curriculum.

  6. Hamid Aigoun says:

    What comments can we make about our students’ willingness or unwillingness to learn in this jungle of materialistic life . A world of quick riches. “Schools are no longer breeders of happy jobs .Education is no longer a criteria for success and happiness,”my students usually tell me.Our students nowadays suffer from paranoia.i.e,fear of not having enough money in a quick and short time,etc..As a consequence,they lose track of their studies and search for other ways of rapid success.The studies then become their least concern and you see them yawning or making noise while the teacher is busy urging them to listen or to wake up.The majority of the learners who go to school have no purpose of learning .They do it because they have to.They do it just to please their Dads and Mums .Poor teachers!

  7. superdestroyer says:

    Do high school teachers really believe that every high school students could learn Calculus, Quantum Mechanics, or Mandarin Chinese if they just put their mind to it?

    Does natural talent not exist in people? Do these same people believe that everyone could be a competitive marathoner is they just practiced enough?

  8. A different way of framing the question would be to ask not “are you willing to learn?” but “WHAT are you willing to learn?”

    When the children are young, we try hard to make them want to learn pretty much the entire K-8 curriculum, because neither we nor they know what they will like or be good at down the road. But in high school, students start to get to choose what to put more effort and attention into. We allow this as long as they keep up at least some effort in every class for which they’re registered.

    But some students start to resist academics by high school. Part of that may be poor teaching in the earlier grades; but a big part is clearly that we’re telling them they must want to learn things that they’ve decided against. Figuring out what they do want to learn, be it auto mechanics or child care or electronics, and providing instruction in those things, would end this constant swimming upstream process that both teachers and students are exhausted by in the upper high school grades. It might even give them the breathing room to decide to accept some academic instruction along with the technical.