Getting Students to Commit to
by Joe A. Martin, Jr., Ed.D.
I think one of the most tragic things to witness as a teacher is to
see a student spend several years in school, only to “scratch” the surface
of his or her potential.
Every year, millions of students are graduating with
a diplomas, but not receiving an education. It’s also been reported in numerous
studies that the average student only reads one book after college over the span of a
lifetime. This is truly tragic.
One of the best things you can do for
students is to turn them on to learning (as early as possible). In fact, you can’t
afford to miss an opportunity to let your students know that learning is a lifelong
process that should only stop when they do.
Unfortunately, education is having just the opposite
effect on students. When students graduate, it’s common to hear, “I’m
done with this education thing. I’ll never pick up another book as long as I live.”
In a sense, they’re writing their own professional death certificate.
One way to reinforce the message of lifelong learning is through guest speakers who have
successfully established themselves in their careers. Invite them to come to your class,
and have them mention the importance of improving one’s self through learning and
professional growth. If repetition is the mother of skill, students who constantly and
consistently hear the message about learning outside of the classroom will eventually
get the point while they’re in the classroom.
Another way to reinforce
the importance of independent, lifelong learning is to do class discussions on
successful people. As we know, success does not encompass a common gender, nationality,
religion, ethnic group, age, or height, but there are some glaring similarities. Make
sure you point out to your students the importance of lifelong learning as it relates to
these individuals. Talk about it openly in class.
When I was a college
student, chasing my “dream job,” I asked a young, highly successful
corporate executive, how did he become so successful at such a young age. He responded
by asking me a series of questions:
* Within the past year, how many books
outside of school have you read?
* Within the past year, how many
seminars/workshops have you attended (outside of class) to improve yourself?
* Within the past year, how many successful people in your field have you interviewed to
discover their strategies for success?
After a long silence, I
responded, “none” to each question. He proceeded to tell me that if I didn’t
change the answer to those questions before I graduated from college, I would never
achieve the success that he had. He continued, “However, if you do change those
answers, you will significantly change the course of your life.” He was absolutely
Ever since my encounter with that young stranger, not only have I
changed those answers, I now pose the same questions to all of my students (every
semester). Don’t let students pass through your class without convincing them of
the power of lifelong learning; it’s an investment in their future.
Joe Martin is an award-winning national speaker, author,
professor, and educational consultant. His mission is to help students,
teachers, and administrators learn, lead, and live with purpose and passion. To
find out more visit his web site at https://www.NewTeacherUniversity.com.
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