The Teacher's Desk

Sharing The Passion. Sharpening The Tools. Promoting Life Long Learning.

What Are We Learning This For?

15893442-frustrated-high-school-student-in-classroomI am certain that if you are an educator you have heard this question asked multiple times through out your career.  Often we push this question to the side or come up with some cliché answer that does not resonate with our students at all.  A few years ago I made up my mind to tell my students the truth , it has worked out better for all of us.  It has also caused me to consider the relevance of the information I am teaching.  I realize when this question is asked what students  are really saying  is  how will learning this be important  in my life beyond today?
I began the school year asking my students what motivates them to do well in school?  Many of my seniors of course had graduation in mind and getting into the school of their choice  or being able to snag that scholarship.  There was not one who said I do well because I love learning.  We discussed working for mastery of skills and not grades, and though this sounds good in theory, but oh the hypocrisy of it all because I realize that much of what we now do in “schooling” children does not promote life long learning or mastery.

There are several questions we  should ask ourselves  this summer as we reflect and prepare for the upcoming school year :

  • Why am I teaching this information and why am I using this method?
  • Will this information be information not only be rigorous but relevant?
  • Do I provide students a learning environment that promotes mastery learning ?



Mariale Hardiman and Glenn Whitman in the article “Assessment and the Learning Brain: What the Research Says,” share that,

Research on the connection between motivation and learning has focused on two types of mindsets that students develop, based on the kind of experiences (including assessments) we present them with in school. Students tend to develop either performance-related goals or mastery goals (Ames & Archer).

(Click link to read article as shared on


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