When Will I Ever Use This?

March 5, 2012

Health and Fitness, Teaching

When Will I Ever Use This?

My class was discussing the workings of the cardiovascular system when a student raised his hand and asked, “When will I ever use this?”  After a quick, “every single time your heart beats” response, I let the question settle in a bit and realized that I was offended by it.  You see, I want to think that what I teach will always be universally accepted as the most important information in the history of the world.  Is that too much to ask?

Here’s what I’m discovering: Learning becomes stifled when it’s relegated to walls of the classroom and the hours of the school day. If we want students to develop into lifelong learners, we must connect the classroom with the home and the community in whatever ways we can. There’s a question that we’ve all heard (and we’ve even asked ourselves, on occasion). It’s a simple and important question that should be asked of all classroom learning. It sounds something like this: “Why do I need to know this?” or like this “When am I ever going to use this?” or like this “Why does this matter?” As a teacher, I know that the sound of that question can sting sometimes.

I wonder if our classroom and our curriculum were more interconnected with our home and community life, if the answer to the question would be more obvious. I wonder if a math teacher was teaching concepts in a way that they could be applied at the dinner table or at the grocery store or at city hall, if anyone would need to ask, “Why do I need to know this?” I wonder if a P.E. teacher empowered parents to get involved with their children’s health and fitness, by offering family activities or healthy eating suggestions, if the “What difference does this make?” question would simply fade away. I wonder if members of the community were invited into the classrooms (and students were invited into the community) to explore what history and math and science have to do with life, if the question might shift from “Why do I need to know this?” to “How else can I apply this?”

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About Mr. Zerwas

Passionate about Family, Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Multimedia - Teaching Video and Broadcasting and Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA

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