Can we answer this question satisfactorily for our students?

Paul Sinanis, middle school student, said:

I don’t understand the point of school. What’s the point? Everything that I am interested in and connects to my world doesn’t ever come up in school, so what’s the point?


6 Responses to “Can we answer this question satisfactorily for our students?”

  1. Curious what you think of as an answer to this question?

  2. I’m thinking of using this post (and it’s related readings) to start my Social Context of Schooling course next term…. Good discussion starter! I know my own students wrestle with this one a lot, because a Foundations course like Social Context asks them to think about schooling in sociological, economic, social justice perspectives, rather than in terms of classroom instruction, and a lot of them have zero interest in such abstractions. They want to know about the craft of teaching: how to do a lesson plan, how to evaluate, and –most importantly–how to get little Johnny to sit down and shut up. They want to know the dollar value of everything they are taught as it relates to their immediate needs as a student teacher in a practicum classroom. They do not always see the value of learning anything that is not instrumental in their short term need to pass the semester. So part of me suspects I’m trying to teach them something unrelated to their own priorities, and we would be better off making this a grad course…that whole ‘readiness’ thing. On the other hand, every teacher should have a little professional prep on why we’re doing this and why it matters, or they won’t be able to answer the question posed in this post when asked by their students, other than to say, “Johnny, I told you to shut up and sit down!” So a bit of irony given double standard to which they hold themselves vs what they expect of their own students….
    So, yeah, this post(s) might make a very nice starting point for a discussion about how it is they find themselves in my class, and what to do when in theirs….

  3. Very interesting, Robert. I am finding that the more I understand and participate in educational policy contexts and legislators’ (in)action, the more I keep coming back to the ideas, themes, writings, and contexts that are in preservice Social Foundations courses.

    We ignore past education cycles and other history at our peril, as we are discovering to our dismay today in the #edreform wars.

  4. I think that’s the wrong question. “What’s the point?” ultimately hews to a utilitarian view of education, where education is simply a stepping stone to something else. A liberal arts view of education says that education *is* the point. The question it asks is “What can I get out of this?”, not “Why am I here?”, which is behind the “What’s the point?” question.

  5. Paul, As a student in middle school it is difficult to understand why you are learning and what the point of school is. The point of school is your future. You are in school so that in the future you may apply the tools that you learned from K-College. The connection will come in High School and College.

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