Even boring work benefits students – all teaching/learing strategies have value

With so many different learning styles and learning needs – with so many different ways for students to grow, it has always seemed strange to me that advocates for one style of learning don’t just extol its virtues, but need to advocate so strongly, that it seems they are presenting their preferred teaching/learning style as the only legitimate one. I have always wondered if this was because of the necessities of the market or other such concern. It is a cycle that can never be won; with so many different concerns and issues, there is always grounds for criticism of a style because there is always another option or way of doing things. If you are doing X then you are not doing Y – if Y then not Z. It is a stressful cycle that serves no one’s best interest except perhaps the market or professionals trying to build their personal brand. I would have thought that educators would be better aggregators of pedagogy and be able to incorporate many techniques in a growing bag of strategies, but it seems that many are content to change styles rather then construct a more diverse tool kit as new techniques are discovered.

It seems to me that there can be no 1 style to successfully teach/learn in all/most/the majority of situations (I know that this is not a new thought); that the vast majority of approaches have value and it is the job and mark of distinction of a professional teacher to know when to use a strategy and with whom. I have always disliked the hyperbolic debate that seems to be created by teaching/learning style advocates. Even boredom has value.

One of my professors at the Faculty or Ed. used to tell us to be ready. At some point, a student is going to say X or Y…it isn’t a hypothetical…it is going to happen. To him, it was our job as professionals to be ready when it happened. To know, ahead of time, how we would respond. One example he used was a student saying, “this is boring.” It is going to happen – what will you say?

Though not my goal, when a student says that, I respond to the effect, “Good! Take out your “boring work” skills – practice them and get this done Boring work skills are very important. Your first job isn’t going to be exciting (likely) but you still need to mop the floor or you get fired. Driving for 4 hours is boring, but you still need to pay attention or you hit a tree….”

The skill of applying yourself to boring work is very important in life; it’s a skill they can develop in school. It will help with taxes, driving, watching a movie or TV show that your partner likes, cleaning, painting, etc. If even something we try to avoid has value to our students, shouldn’t we allow for many different teaching practices; shouldn’t we end the pointlessly stressful hyperbolic promotion style that requires “new” techniques to be sold at the expense of “older” ones?

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