Teaching Methods That Inspire Students To Explore And Learn

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INTRODUCTION


Whether it is the season of exams or otherwise, we, as parents are anxious to see our kids study and perform well. As told by Barbara Morgan, “Let the potential artist in our children come to life, that they may surmount industrial monotonies and pressure.”

Often, we encounter the problem of getting our children to learn, explore and enjoy it at the same time. I began my journey of writing this article by trying to reach out and understand what “inspiring” meant. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the meaning of the word “Inspire” as to influence, to spur on and motivate. So, it made me think, when do we get motivated or excited to do something? On reflection, I realized that I am motivated and excited when I am doing something that comes naturally to me.


In order to get our kids to study, it is very important to know what kind of learning style fits best for our child. Researchers have published many theories about learning styles, although none of them have been found to be comprehensive enough to ensure learning outcomes. One such study published by Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Riechmann talks about the students’ attitude towards learning which we can relate to. The learning styles are:

  • Competitive
  • Collaborative
  • Avoidant
  • Participative
  • Dependent
  • Independent


Each of these learning styles talk about students’ attitude towards learning.


Competitive students are those who like to perform better than the others and are strongly wired to compete with other and get rewards. The learning outcomes for these kind of children can be easily achieved as they are self motivated to perform better than others. If they are presented with a challenge even if it is not with peers but to get better than what they themselves did in their last test, they will rise to the occasion.

In my experience as a Cuemath teacher, I have seen many kids who try their level best to outperform others solely because of their competitive nature. On a regular basis, these kids like all other kids are not really motivated to do much, but when presented with a challenge , they enjoy working towards breaking records.

I often conduct competitions in my center, just to keep the kids motivated to perform. The advantage of having such competitions is that, the kids look forward to the challenges and this helps:

  • kids study on a regular basis without missing classes
  • kids are motivated to perform better.
  • kids make an attempt to study on their own and understand. Even the most reticent child responds positively and asks for help when they don’t understand what they are studying.

Whenever, I conduct a competition in my class, the kids are curious to know what their score is in comparison to their peers and what they must do to outperform them. In this way the kids want to do something better by themselves and are not being forced to do something they don’t want to. This makes a huge difference to their learning outcomes.

Similarly, for children to get excited and motivated, they need to enjoy what they are doing and develop a liking for what they are learning. This can only be achieved by getting them to learn things the way they like.

As told by Robert. J. Meehan, “Teaching is an accomplishment; Getting children excited about learning is an achievement”.


The collaborative type of students are those who feel that they can learn by sharing ideas and talents. They work better in groups than individually. These students can be encouraged by asking them to help their peers or the kids younger to them. In this way, they will learn solely to help others and in the process, they get the benefit of understanding the concepts in a better way.

This category of kids might be competitive but they are more inclined to study for the sole purpose of helping others and they would make good teachers. They can be motivated by asking them to do small tasks such as helping their siblings or neighbors study and they can only do so by knowing the topic themselves. We want to ensure that the students share an intellectual space, they learn more and experience things better than they would do alone. Since I have students who are from different grades, I let the older kids help the younger ones, thereby boosting the confidence level of the kids and this also helps me to get a first hand information about their level of understanding.

Generally, it is found that kids are able to help others relate better as they have undergone the same experience earlier and therefore are able to explain things in a better way, which at the same time helps them achieve a better understanding of the concept.

As said by Phil Collins, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”


Going forward to the avoidant category of children. These children are not enthusiastic about learning. They are generally uninterested or overwhelmed by class activities and are reluctant to participate with teachers/ students in classroom activities. These kids have to be dealt with a lot of patience and understanding of what exactly puts them off. These kids generally stay away from competitions citing reasons like, “I am not going to win! Why participate”. Such kids lack self motivation and their general aversion might stem from the fact that they have not understood or they are not interested in studying.

If we can get to the root of their problem and work on it patiently, then we can boost their confidence and make them work better. I had a student who found it very difficult initially to complete even half a page of his worksheet. But after a period of three months, I have seen a tremendous change in the way he behaves. Initially he would say that, “I can never win any competition”, but now he is at least willing to participate and give it a try. He came up to me and said, “I can learn this topic in a much better way with your help”.

His problem was that he never understood what was being taught and therefore with each grade the learning gaps only increased, until a point where he became completely indifferent to what was going on in the class. Now that he has understood the topics, he is happy and excited about learning more.

In the words of Confucius, “Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand”.


The dependent category of students are those who show very little intellectual curiosity. They learn only what is required. They are not interested in expanding their horizons and they look up to the teachers and peers as their supporting structures. They await instructions from authoritative figures on what and how to do things. The classroom method of learning is much more suitable to them as they prefer to have clear instructions and deadlines for assignments.


The next category of students are those who like to think and have ideas of their own, independent students. They are not totally dependent on teachers’ instructions and are confident in their learning abilities. They prefer to work alone and study independently. They work well with students centered activities rather than teacher centered activities.


CONCLUSION


The learning style of a child need not be restricted to just one of the aforementioned categories, a child may respond to different learning styles as well. For example: a child may be collaborative and competitive at the same time. In conclusion, I would suggest the parents to identify the learning style of their children as it will help them to persuade their children to enjoy studying just as much as they enjoy playing or watching T.V. As an effective teacher, one must capture the students’ attention to enable better learning while teaching.


As told by Mary Hatwood Futrell, “When an untapped potential of a student meets the liberating art of a teacher, a miracle unfolds.”

  
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