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Page history last edited by Martha Hickson 12 years, 5 months ago
Image: Interest - boy raising hand

The fifth element needed for classroom synergy is student interest.


Who loves school?

Young children come to school with abundant enthusiasm for learning and with their own unique way of perceiving the world. Over time a kind of sorting takes place – some students thrive, others do just ok, others rebel against style and constraint, and by high school many react with apathy, their boredom obvious.  How can teachers connect with students’ need for meaningful learning? How can teachers stem the misbehavior that bored students instigate? Charles proposes a five-point plan (63-78).




1. Know students

Background reading and classroom experience help a teacher understand what students are like, “what they are capable of, incapable of, interested in and predisposed to” (65). Taking into consideration a child’s chronological age and intellectual developmental stage, a teacher can gauge appropriateness of content and activity. Robin Gordon in “How Novice Teachers Can Succeed with Adolescents” (1997) calls a teacher’s social insight “withitness,” a kind of cultural knowing.  A teacher can use her/his withitness to relate content to students’ outside interests. Relevance enhances learning.


2. Identify needs

From discussion during the initial class meetings, the teacher can identify students’ needs and preferences.  Students needs will cluster around (68-69):


  • Security
  • Hope
  • Acceptance

  • Dignity

  • Power

  • Enjoyment

  • Sense of competence 


Charles describes these as needs that a “person craves permanently” (69). When students feel assured that their needs are met, they bring heightened interest to the learning experience. This emotional comfort zone can serve as the platform for learning in an interesting classroom. 


3. Make school interesting

Initial class meetings will make students’ likes and dislikes eminently clear (76-77).


Students like

Students dislike

  • Talking with others 
  • Moving around 
  • Productive & creative work 
  • Using their hands 
  • Group projects 
  • Cooperative work 
  • Team competition 
  • Efforts to surpass personal levels of achievement 
  • Use of computers & media equipment 
  • Rhythm, rhyme & metaphor 
  • Rhythmic activities with repetiion, music, chanting, clapping & dancing 
  • Listening to & telling stories 
  • Role-playing skits & performances 
  • Variety
  • Sitting still for long periods
  • Keeping quiet for long periods
  • Working by themselves
  • Memorizing facts for tests
  • Long lectures
  • Long reading assignments 
  • Long writing assignments
  • Repetitive busy work
  • Individual competition where the same few students come out on top
  • Little or no choice in activities, assignments or assessment 


4. Allow choice  

During class meetings throughout the school year, the teacher allows students to have input on topic selection and activities.  Students understand that some curricular points are non-negotiable because of requirements; however, flexibility and shared decisions predominate. The teacher acts as facilitator, “organizing interesting activities and providing assistance” (74). This curricular synergy confers shared ownership and enhances interest. Interested students are motivated to learn.


5. Try a facilitative teaching style

Curriculum acts as a guide for teachers and a blueprint for students. Construction and delivery of this content must be “interesting and effective”  (64). When a teacher uses a facilitative teaching style students are involved in the learning process. Charles believes that facilitiative teaching, while not appropriate in all situations, taps into a student's “intrinsic motivation” (74).


Directive teaching

Facilitative teaching 

  • Organize learning tasks
  • Set standards
  • Explain & demonstrate
  • Rarely ask for student input
  • Grade work
  • Use coercion to force compliance
  • Discuss topics with class
  • Encourage students to identify topics of interest
  • Discuss how to undertake work
  • Suggest possibilities
  • Identify resources


NOTE: The facilitative approach is not effective in the early primary grades (74). 


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