Picture a freshman introductory psychology class, about 350 students, who are still trying to find their seats when the professor starts talking. "Today," she says, "we will continue our discussion of (blah, blah, blah)." She might as well be addressing a crowd at the airport. Like commuters marking time until their next departure, students alternately read the newspaper, chat with friends, or prop their feet on the chair ahead of them, staring into space. Only when the professor defines a term that she says "might appear on the exam," do they look up and start writing notes.
Machelle Robinson was an undergraduate in a course I taught. I asked students to comment on their college education and this passage was part of her response. Her response is not atypical. Increasingly, school at all levels is seen as a chore, a rite of passage to be endured, rather than an exciting place to grow and learn. Students are turned off to learning in school. They worry about how well they are doing, about passing the next test, about pleasing the teacher, about getting along with the other kids. Rather than be excited by the classroom, they have learned to fear it. They realize that what they are learning in school is unlikely to apply to their adult lives. They are often discouraged from following their own interests. School fails to excite them. And the rest of us, as observers of this scene have virtually forgotten that learning is supposed to be exciting.
Learning Prior to School
Where am I in the content of the book?