Currently, I am reading Life in Schools by Peter McLaren. He is currently a UCLA professor but was a teacher in an inner-city school in Canada. This is one thing he learned from his experience:

"I finally accepted the fact that my students needed to be taught on their own terms first, and then taught to critically transcend those terms in the interest of empowering themselves and others. The traditional middle-class pathways to success were not open to them, the pathways that they, in turn, were able to resist. In the classroom, they had become, understandably street-wise cynical about the social candy of academic rewards such as good grades on term papers or tests. I began to be effective with these students when I dignified their own experiences as worthy of inquiry."

I admit, in the not too distant past I told students, "Pay attention - this will help you on the test!" As if I was doing them a favor, thinking back I cringe. To think I tried to tell students it was important because it was on a test. Did they even care about the test? Instead, I should have sparked their curiosity, related it to the big idea/essential question, made it interactive, integrated technology, made it collaborative, connected to their experiences, ect.

What do you think?

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I think his approach probably worked for some, but not for all. Sparking a student's interest and making it interesting and relevant is what we all should strive for as teachers. Don't ya think?
ABSOLUTELY! During the many workshops I attended over the summer, the idea of sparking curiosity was seen by many experts as critical to making teaching successful. This is nothing new to teaching - we were all taught about anticipatory sets by Madeline Hunter. The hard part is finding out what sparks young learners from poverty - probably the basics like food, shelter, love. "Learning this will get you into College" may not work for us any longer!

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