Wait, why am I learning this?

If I walked into a random classroom at your school and asked a random student: “This thing you’re learning right now, why are you learning it?”, would they have a good answer? And what if we disallowed the following answers: “Because it’s on the test.” and “Because my teacher told me to.”? Would the student be able to clearly articulate the underlying value and purpose of the lesson?

Learning driven by a deep sense of real-world meaning and powered by curiosity, hope and intrinsic motivation is so powerful. Yet, there are still many lessons being delivered that are void of this sense of meaning and driven, instead, by some form of external motivator (eg stickers, tokens, money, grades, fear, etc).

The best educators always ensure the ‘why‘ is strong – at the heart of their classroom – even in very young students. The ‘why‘ is the source-code of inspiration and the fuel of long-term passion and perseverance.

The ‘why‘ makes learning matter.

Your why

I am yet to meet a quality educator anywhere in the world, who decided to become a teacher for the fame and fortune or because they thought it would be a cruisy way to earn a buck.

Despite the fact that we knew it would be hard work, with long hours, high levels of stress, and relatively low pay and prestige, we chose it anyway. We all had our own different reasons for choosing this work – but we had a reason – a why.

Unfortunately, it is easy for that reason, that why, to get clouded by the day to day stress and needs of the job. And before we know it, we can lose track of it altogether.

When that happens (and it does happen), it’s critical to take time out to reconnect with that deep purpose so that it can drive our goals, decisions and behaviour. Or perhaps it’s time to consider another a different job.