Education Through Engagement

When it comes to education, there are many factors that come into play when trying to learn or teach. We do our best, but we still don’t fully understand how to teach on the most fundamental level. People are individuals, and, as such, they have different educational needs, but, as with any job, our teachers are taught how to teach in a single way. Each teacher interprets their job in a different fashion, so there is variance, but it’s ultimately not enough. Americans in particular struggle with math, and, as it just so happens, we also tend to find math boring. That’s the heart of the matter here. Take it from me, as someone with an encyclopedic memory for things that hold my interest, a lack of engagement is the biggest hurdle in the way of a good education. I, too, have a problem with math, but other technical knowledge, often involving numbers, come much more naturally to me, because I have an interest in them. As such, my best advice to teachers and students alike to make the learning experience a more interesting and engaging one. Here are some ways to do just that.

First and foremost, I can’t recommend enough that you take a more active approach to learning. Learning in our current educational system is largely memorization. That is, until you get to college, at which point the focus shifts to writing essays. The problem here is that we’re spending too much time preparing for exams, in essence, and that leads to the paradox of being able to ace your test and remember little of the material once a given class is behind you. So, I would recommend that students take it upon themselves to engage with the material themselves. The same idea applies to teachers, who would instead arrange activities to accomplish the same goal. One example of this is learning botany. As a science, botany has an approachability problem. However, botany has a lot of potential for amateurs. An example of this is foraging for wild edibles. This activity requires knowledge of the subject, first and foremost, but it also makes a game of it by turning it into a scavenger hunt. And, of course, you get to eat the treasure. This can be a great hobby for people of all ages, but it can also make a great field trip. Plus, it also doubles as exercise we’re also sadly lacking in the modern world, so get into your hiking gear from Merrell and go find some morels. Another good idea is to teach math using video games. Video games tend to have a lot of mathematical problems in them, and while knowing exactly what’s going on isn’t always necessary, it tends to help to understand the math.

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