Over the years, many high school students have displayed a common attitude towards their school life – that they feel disoriented and under pressure. They think that whatever they learn at school is irrelevant in post-school life and for their future occupations. According to one study, the most common feeling among many high schoolers is fatigue and boredom. According to another study, more than 65% of the jobs that will employ current high school students are yet to be created. However, despite this, the same training given to industrial workers a century ago is being given to high school students today.
The only way to increase relevance, engagement and a sense of applicable learning into high school education is by nurturing the students’ passion and purpose. Purpose can be defined as a steady and generalised objective to achieve something that is both of great significance to self and to the outside world.
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So what principles would help develop a learning system that fosters a sense of purpose among high school students?
Below are some of the principles:
Prioritize intrinsic motivation in students
The system should help students discover what they love and what the world needs, as opposed to doing what yields external rewards in terms of recognition from teachers and markers.
More emphasis should be put on working together as a team as opposed to competing against each other. Teamwork is highly emphasised in t the workplace, so it should be developed from high school. This could be done by awarding grades for how well students worked with each other and mentored their colleagues, instead of for outcompeting others in various disciplines.
Students build meaningful relationships with teachers
The education system and culture should encourage students to develop a real relationship with their teachers and to view them as mentors and coaches. The structure ought to also train teachers to be important coaches to help students discover their passions and foster a purpose.
Learning to extend beyond the classroom
Taking learning outside school can greatly help students discover their purpose. This is because it allows them to do something because they care about and not just to obtain the best grades. Such extracurricular learning may include fieldtrips, participation in community projects or excursions to challenging environments, such as to remote places.
Promote learning from failure
The norm of the education system is to reward those who get high grades or excel in a particular field, and to shame or simply ignore those who fail. Students have no opportunity to fail without severe consequences, thereby denying them the opportunity to prepare for the real world where failure is an essential catalyst for success. The system should allow for greater learning from failure.
Giving more attention to students’ inner lives
For students to have a sense of purpose, they must find out who they are, what they want in their lives, and what makes them appreciate life. All of these questions will build their purposefulness. The education system must focalize on these by nurturing students’ inner thoughts and ponderings, rather than them simply having a semester-long class superficially addressing the subject.
Have a sense of “why.’’
A purpose-based curriculum makes students understand why they should learn and the essence behind it. The lack of understanding behind their learning , and efforts or participation in specific activities means students fail to find meaning in their school work, hence their feelings of it being dull. .
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