June 6, 2020

Context in Learning – The Key Ingredient

Have you been caught in a “learning” environment where someone was lecturing you endlessly? 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 context 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 The data we teach today will be outdated tomorrow; therefore, teaching within context is really about teaching students how to learn.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.

In order to develop context for learners, we have to have an understanding of what they value the most. Some questions to ask in order to reveal values are:

· What do students talk about?

· What do they spend time thinking about?

· 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?

Context is weaving the two together. We create context with story, drama, suspense, and, on a minute level, everything in our environment helps to develop the context.

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

· Get clear on the outcomes you wish to have.

· Understand your audience and what they value.

· Relate your content to this audience. Ask, how would the content I wish to teach serve their highest values?

· 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. Most likely, especially in an adult group of people who paid to be in class, there is a denominator-even if it is simply not wasting their time or money. In a classroom of seventh grade students who did not pay to be in class nor want to be in class, this could be trickier. What is it everyone has in common? How could this be pulled into what they value-even on an individual level?

Relate Your Content to Your Audience

This is something to review constantly throughout your presentation. Once you have clarified your objectives and you know what your audience values, it is time to create your presentation and deliver. In order to deliver it effectively, a great teacher refers to what their student’s values are and constantly reminds the class how this material relates to serving their values.

Present to All the Learning Styles

Presenting to all learning styles simultaneously offers each person the chance to receive your message. There are three styles to consider: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Auditory learners learn by listening to the content. They also retrieve their knowledge in exactly the same way that it went in. For example, if I said, “Context is the weaving together of people’s values with educational content,” the learner would pull the sentence out in exactly that order. Visual learners, learn by seeing. They can model others and they retrieve their knowledge by visualizing words or images in their mind first. And if you tell or show kinesthetic learners something, they will not retain it. They cannot hear or see the lesson. They must do it and feel it.

Each of us has all three styles within us although one style usually is the primary learning style for us. Excellent teachers present to all three styles to maximize the learning and ensure that each person understands the message being communicated.

Students learn within context. They do not learn data, and this form of education where one person stands in front of a group of people to share their data is outdated and is no longer helping our youth grow. It is time for inspired learning and inspiration only comes with the right context. Master the development of context and you master teaching and inspiring people.

Matthew Scott K is a father, husband, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and coach, who is based out of Gunnison, Colorado. He is heavily invested in mentoring and the education of today’s youth while focusing on working with people who are seeking life mastery.

Matthew currently coaches people in a boxing class he calls Fight 4 Your Life and through Ollin Academy. Ollin Academy offers multiple lessons on various facets of life designed to help people bring all their heart into experience.

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