As I was participating in a career and technical education conference this past week, I noticed a continuing theme: Students must see the purpose behind their education.
Of course Dan Pink’s Meaning aptitude came right to mind. In his book A Whole New Mind, Pink defines meaning as something larger than just oneself. While I agree that students should contribute to the better good, I would like to expand Dan Pink’s definition.
I think that in education, meaning can also be interpreted as something larger than the classroom. Students get trapped in the artificially imposed compartmentalization of academia, without the benefit of seeing what lies beyond the school walls.
But let’s change gears and think of it as a motivation principle also. Dan Pink states in his book Drive that people are motivated by realizing a purpose in what they are doing. And providing a real-life example would definitely give students a purpose. What a perfect opportunity for educators. But how do we do it?
This Oregon program is an excellent example. Students are able to witness engineering in action. They take the principles of science and math, and show students how they apply to real life. And not only that, they use examples that are interesting to young people. As an example: how do you eliminate the sting of a vibrating bat in the hands of a professional athlete? That’s something I would like to know, and I’m sure most of my students would too.
It’s a great article that is worth the read, and shows us a way that we can provide real meaning to learning. In case you think that students will make the connection themselves, here is a quote from one sophomore student, who I am sure is not alone: “I didn’t realize that all that stuff was related to engineering.”Share