“There’s a reason for the journey.
There is purpose in the learning.
Not everything in life comes naturally.”
– Steffany Gretzinger
Some kids just need to know why they have to do something. Why are we learning Science? Why are we doing Mathematics? Why are we drawing pictures?
Steffany Gretzinger has nailed it with the lyrics to her song, ‘Getting There’. There is a reason for the journey. There is a purpose in our learning and not everything that we learn does come naturally. Some learning is difficult. Some learning is painful. Some learning is complicated. But, through the learning, we can find hope. In the learning, we can find joy. As we learn, we can grow into the purpose which has been appointed for us.
It can be hard to fully explain to students the value in their learning if they don’t see a purpose in it. Students in our ‘First World’ society sometimes struggle to value education as they have access to so much and rarely comprehend the worth of it. To give students a reason to learn, we, as teachers, need to engage with each individual on an interest level in order to give them a reason to learn. Because, most of the time, learning is hard, it requires discipline, and who really wants to engage in hard work unless it produces a worthwhile result?
I once had a student who was not progressing. Others were moving past her in reading and writing and she remained at the same point, no matter what I did with her. It was becoming frustrating. I had been in contact with her parents who had noted similar frustrations when working with her at home. I kept working with her with little to no results, whilst the other students who had been flagged with issues at the start of the year had made notable progress. Eventually, after a more serious discussion with her family, we realised that she had decided that she wanted to be a singer and dancer when she grew up – for which, she was adamant, that you did not need an education for. No need to read, no need to write if you are going to be a famous entertainer.
There lay the key. Once I explained to her that even famous performers need to know how to read and write in order to be great performers, things changed. I explained how the best singers often write their own songs. They often need to read the lyrics to others’ famous songs. The realisation sunk in swiftly and within a few weeks, we had progress. Without a reason for her journey, my student felt their was no purpose in her learning, and the hard work was therefore not worth it.
How many times do we miss identifying the motivating factors for those tricky students? How often do we ourselves walk away from a learning opportunity because it is too hard?
The truth is, in life, sometimes we will have no choice as to whether we are exposed to a learning opportunity from our Heavenly Father, because it is thrust upon us, however, we do have a choice as to whether we engage in it fully.
As Philippians 4: 12 states,
12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.
The key word is learn. It is never easy to learn to live on an empty stomach. It is never easy to learn to live with nothing. It requires patience and persistence.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5: 3-4)
Students need hope in their own purpose if they are to persevere with their learning. At times we too may need our own hope if we are to do the same. Life lessons can be harder than school lessons, but just as rewarding… if we have hope in the outcome and God’s plan through the pain.