Article | What’s In It For Me?

Imagine that you walk to your office one morning, and on your desk you see a memo stating that you have been nominated for a diving training program. You sit at your desk and wonder, what a diving training program has to do with you, and why you should even consider taking it.

You walk up to your supervisor and ask her, if the memo was sent to you by mistake. Your supervisor smiles and confirms that it was indeed intended for you. So your next obvious question is “but why?”

“Why should I?” or ” What’s in it for me?” are absolutely relevant questions that anyone would ask. Because no wants to learn anything new without understanding how the new learning is relevant to them – how will they use it or benefit from it.

Relevance  applies to students too. Class 7 students don’t want to learn ratio and percentages because they don’t understand how it is relevant to them. Or class 9 students find history and civics boring, because they don’t understand it’s relevance. They want to know “Why should I?” or “What’s in it for me?”

In this weeks MI post (MI Monday I Maths in the Community), we featured Geeta, a Grade 6, math teacher, who showed students how math was relevant to them by connecting math to the real world. Geeta’s innovation proved successful because she recognized that students often learn more effectively when they are given the opportunity to apply the knowledge they are taught, when they are shown how the learning is relevant to them.

One of the most important aspects that influence learning, is getting students to “buy in” to the concept being taught. By explaining why they should be learning a concept, teachers immediately show relevance as well as real life application. The concept changes from being abstract into something that is concrete, something that students can relate to.

Video: Connected Learning: Real-world Engagement – Watch Connie Yowell, the director of education for the MacArthur Foundation who leads the foundation’s Digital Media and Learning initiative talk about the consequence of reframing education around the experience of the student.

Video: Making Schooling Relevant for Today’s World – In this video, Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta, Australia speaks about the importance of making school and learning relevant to students.

Video: Making learning relevant to the real world and teaching the whole student – Watch Dr. Ferguson talk about the strategies he implements to make math more relevant and less rote and intimidating.

Reflect & Share:

How can teachers bring relevance into their day-to-day class?

  • Should “relevance” be included as a key component in the lesson plan template?
  • Does problem-based learning help bring out relevance?
  • Can outdoor activities such as field trips help students understand the relevance of what they are learning?

What strategies do you use to make learning relevant for your students?

Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Kanchan Shine

Kanchan Shine

Passionate about everything related to education. I believe that the best kind of learning happens through play, experiments and fun! I love watching how children learn and love to implement play-based, hands-on teaching approaches. I get my thrill by planning activities for my children (6 yo girl & 3 yo boy) and watching them learn while having fun!

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2 Responses

  1. Rupali Chaudhry says:

    Students would love Maths if they truly knew how to apply those concepts in real situations. Kanchan you are doing a fine job through your website.


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