Not Knowing the Purpose & Value of the Subject

(Learning Barrier # 1)



This is the number one cause of losing student interest and attention in the classroom.

This is most likely the key reason students do poorly when first introduced to a subject.  When your child sees no value or purpose for the subject, their attention will wander, they could become disruptive to the other students around them.  They will do miserably and most likely fail the subject.


Think back to subjects you did not do well in.  Did you, or even now, do you know the purpose for learning that subject, and the value and use of that knowledge in your life?


As with life, children need to see a reason for paying attention to a subject.  They need to see the value and use of the knowledge in order to bother learning it.  It must be made relevant to their lives, especially in today’s society with so much demanding a student’s attention.


The topic of purpose is a vitally important one.  The definition of purpose is: something one sets before oneself as an object to be attained; an object, effect or result aimed at.  It is due to the purpose you see in any action or pursuit, that causes you to invest your time and energy in that action or pursuit.  It is a key to succeeding in life.


What are the Signs & Symptoms that your child does not see the value and purpose of a particular subject?

  • Is your child disinterested in the subject or school in general?
  • Is your child doing poorly in that subject?
  • Is your child being disruptive in class?
  • Does your child think school is boring and useless?
  • Do you have to drag your child, force them or bribe them to do their homework?


If you answered yes to any of those questions, your child probably does not see any value or purpose for what they’re being made to learn.


See my first blog in May to read about what can happen if your child is forced to continue learning.  Read about the balance of Cause & Effect in learning, and the Three Stages of Student Decline.  This can happen to your child if they are made to continue learning in this manner.  You will destroy their spirit and their natural love of learning.


As a parent, how can you remedy this Learning Barrier?

  • Ask your child, “Do you know why the teacher teaches this subject to you?”  You’re trying to find out if your child can think of any reason to learn this subject.
  • Acknowledge their answer by saying Thank You. Do not evaluate their answer or make them feel wrong or stupid.
  • Say, “Let’s find out together.”  Pull out a large dictionary, or a child’s dictionary if appropriate, and look up the definition of the subject (composition, geography, arithmetic, etc.)  Defining the word will usually help you and your child discover the use of the subject.
  • Then ask, “Can you think of how you can use this in your life?”  You’re asking your child to explore their life and find all the possible uses of this knowledge.  It will help to make the knowledge relevant and therefore valuable to your child.
  • If your child has no answer, or an incomplete answer, give him or her some examples from your own life.  Then invite them to think of examples for themselves.  You never want to tell them their answer.  You want to question and draw from them their own truth.
  • In the coming days, think of ways to help your child to use this new knowledge in their lives and facilitate it.


As a parent how can you prevent this Barrier from occurring?

The way to avoid this barrier altogether is to be sure you, or the teacher, explain the purpose of the new subject when introducing it, and to explain its value and use.  Again, ask questions and draw from them what is their own truth.


Learn how to help your child overcome all the barriers to comprehension and win at school.  Get our book: How to Learn–How to Teach: Overcoming the Seven Barriers to Comprehension.  Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


“Why Wrong Is Not Always Bad” by Alina Tugend appeared in Education Week. In it she wrote, “What I’m talking about is how so many of our children are taught, covertly, or overtly, that mistakes are something to be avoided at all costs, that there is only one right answer and if you don’t know it, well, you’re a failure.”

The Montessori Method has a whole different approach to mistakes or errors. Montessori material is designed to be self-correcting, that’s one of the advantages of the Montessori Method.

Materials, or work, are created so that if the student makes a mistake they will realize it on their own, sometimes only at the end when a piece is leftover. But the student has the opportunity to repeat the work and discover their mistake on their own, and to learn the correct way to do the work.

By discovering their mistake and correcting themselves, they are learning the underlying principle contained in that work. This is a much more fruitful, holographic and lasting method of absorbing knowledge. This makes the student the source of their own learning. They are in charge of uncovering and discovering the knowledge they seek.

From The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
“We come to a scientific principle which is also a path to perfection. We call it “the control of error.” Whatever is done in school, by teachers, children or others, there are bound to be mistakes. So we need this rule as a part of school life: namely, that what matters is not so much correction in itself as that each individual should become aware of his own errors. Each should have a means of checking, so that he can tell if he is right or not.”

“One of the first exercises done by our children is that with a set of cylinders of equal height but varying diameter, which fit into corresponding sockets in a block of wood. The child begins fitting them one at a time into their sockets, but finds when she comes to the end that she has made a mistake. One cylinder is left which is too large for the only remaining hole, while some of the others fit too loosely. The child looks again and studies them all more closely. She is now faced with a problem. There is that cylinder left over, which shows that she has made a mistake. It is just this that adds interest to the game and makes her repeat it time after time.”

“The child might say, “I am not perfect, I am not omnipotent, but this much I can do and I know it. I also know that I can make mistakes and correct myself, thus finding my way.” If in the daily routine of school we always arrange for errors to become perceptible, this is to place us on a path to perfection.”

Mistakes or errors are part of The Learning Curve of Life.
Embrace your path to perfection.

For further information go to: http://www.howtolearneasily.com

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