Have you ever wondered WHY a student is struggling in your lesson but looked at WHAT they can’t do rather than WHY?

After a chat with a colleague this week I have thought a lot about this little concept.

The most inquisitive mind I know is my 3 year old boy. He asks “why” about nearly everything. Though this of course at times can be a little tedious as we all know, it is how he is learning about the world around him. He is learning things at a rate that is quicker than he will in later life. Yet he has no outlined plan of what he needs to learn, no deadlines or targets, he just wants to know things.

When does this stop? When do children stop asking why and start thinking what? Is it the children that change or something else?

It has long occurred to me that relevance is key to anything that you do, the reason for doing something should be the start point in the exercise. If I am told to do something I may get it done but is it going to be my best? If there is a reason behind it that is part of a shared goal, something that I believe in and will make a difference, then surely the product will be better?
Take this blog for instance, I am writing it as I think it could help people, that is my why, I’m not doing it because I haven’t written one for a while or because I was told to. It makes a difference.

In class I think that too often students just go through the motions, they are not part of the process they are the process. They are on a conveyor belt of knowledge where they are expected to learn, to pass a test, to hit their target, to meet the school target. Does this inspire children to learn? What about starting learning with why?
Why will learning algebra help me in my life?
Why is knowing about nutrition going to help me as I get older?

Once children feel part of the process they should hopefully get more engaged. We have learning objectives and they give us a target to get to in a lesson. These help with maintaining focus but what about adding in the why, a relevance to the lesson, how will it help students?

Possibly looking at WHY might help us understand where we can help students more, maybe we will be able to identify why they are disengaged, reluctant to want to learn or simply misbehave. Step away from the process occasionally and maybe it will help.