Q: What do trigonometry, the periodic table and Shakespeare have in common?
A: The groans of students. When will I ever use this?!
Of course, there’s importance, meaning and beauty in every subject. Something about how the world works or what the human condition is.
Yet, many students feel what they’re learning at school is pointless. This is what we talk about in our After The ATAR III report.
“While I had several teachers in high school who were passionate about their work/respective fields, and whom I admired, I felt that many others failed to contextualise how our learning would benefit us beyond high school,” a 19-year-old male from Victoria said.
“This made my transition into university challenging [and] for the entirety of my first year I’ve lacked a sense of direction and motivation, and my attitude towards my studies has wavered.”
A 21-year-old female from Victoria added: “I went to a publicly funded academically selective high school and whilst there were major perks – there were also a myriad of issues that were left untreated.”
“Due to the majority of my cohort wanting to do well academically, particularly in the senior years, teachers taught throughout all my schooling years strictly to the syllabus – aiding our marks and our ATARs but never discussing life outside of high school, how to apply things to the real world and, most of all, helping us find out our passions through experimentation and exploration.”
Who can blame them if they prefer to learn a diverse range of subjects ranging from health to politics and science on Instagram, YouTube or TikTok?
Interest and inspiration from students come down to many things, but one big thing is greater real-world context. How can what we’re learning be connected to everyday life and work?
We believe that teachers play a huge role in improving the transitional journey for youth by demystifying the real-world applications of the high school curriculum. In doing so, teachers can enable young people to make more meaningful connections to what they’re learning in school and help them visualise a more secure and certain future.
It’s about fostering passion and purpose in their learning. But, on average, students say that just 35% of their teachers speak to them about why they themselves are passionate about the subjects they teach.
This can help explain why 48% of school students go to school because they have to and 52% because they want to, a nearly even split. Plus, on average, these students say they waste 43% of their total class time due to a lack of motivation for what they’re studying, which means that according to them, almost half of the school day is being underutilised.
Help students to find passion and purpose in their studies. Because here’s the magic that could happen:
- 77% spend more time on it
- 76% put more effort into succeeding
- 71% pay more attention in class
- 70% get better marks
- 57% do not want to miss class
- 50% make sure they get their work done
- 40% can deal with challenges/setbacks better
- 39% do more than their teacher asks of them
“The best thing my high school did was consistently get real life
applications to the concepts we were learning in class,” an 18-year-old male from the Australian Capital Territory said.
“It gave me extra knowledge and made me realise how cool the real world is. School allowed me to dream using the material I had already been given through giving me problems to solve that fuel my passions.”