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Context in Learning – The Key Ingredient How did this treat you, and what did you learn?

There are several techniques teachers can use when working with students of any age. The most important technique, however, is the use of context. When context is established well, students will learn quickly, and they will be intrinsically motivated to do so.

A teacher’s true job is not to teach-it is to inspire the desire to learn. This is more important today than ever. The data we teach today will be outdated tomorrow; therefore, teaching within context is really about teaching students how to learn. The great teachers know this and in this article we explore the top three factors that go into building context, and thus go into building intrinsic motivation to learn.

Context is rooted in the Latin contexere, which means “to weave together.” To set the context in a classroom, teachers must weave the lesson together with individual students’ lives. We do this by first understanding students’ values.

Every person is motivated by their prioritized values.

A young student who loves to spend time playing their video games and very little time on their math studies is simply living out his/her values. While they may receive poor grades in math, they are by no means stupid or slow. In fact, they are a genius in their own way, and they could probably spout details about relationships and data in relationship to their favorite video game that could fill a text book.

 Some questions to ask in order to reveal values are:

  1. · What do students talk about?
  2. · What do they spend time thinking about?
  3. · What do they spend their money on?

These questions will lead you to discover their most highly prioritized values. However, their most highly prioritized values may have nothing to do with the topics you wish to teach. This can be a dilemma, but here is where context comes in.

How does the topic and information you wish to teach relate to students’ values?

A few steps to follow in developing the right context for your students are:

  1. · Get clear on the outcomes you wish to have.
  2. · Understand your audience and what they value.
  3. · Relate your content to this audience. Ask, how would the content I wish to teach serve their highest values?
  4. · Present the material to all learning styles at the same time while using suspense, humor, and your own style of teaching.

Get Clear on Your Outcomes

What are the desired outcomes you wish to attain at the end of your lesson? This is critical for you to gain clarity on prior to your lesson. With very clear outcomes established, you can guide any conversation towards them at all times. Education has many variables and the ability to remain flexible is important for teaching people. Clarity on our outcomes allows us to use the “teachable moments” as they come. Only with clarity can we maintain flexible in our delivery.

Understand Your Audience and What They Value

As mentioned above, we must learn what our students’ values are in order to speak to them in a way they care about. If we speak to someone from our own values we will miss an opportunity to communicate.

What happens when there are four or more people in a group?

Each person has slightly different values from another person. Values are part of our uniqueness that we bring to the world. Knowing this, we must prepare for multiple values within a group of people. In order to speak to them using their own values and develop context in our lessons, we must find the common denominator.