Session 324: Making Learning Relevant

Thursday 13th October 2016

With the poll closed, #UKEdChat this week focused on how to make learning relevant, with the core question asking how can teachers make learning relevant to our pupils’ lives?

The session asked the following questions:

  1. What aspect of your teaching are you able to make T&L relevant to your pupils?
  2. How do you help make connections between T&L and daily lives, when the curriculum is narrow?
  3. How do you respond to pupils when they complain, “Why do we need to learn this anyway”?
  4. We are teaching pupils for their futures. How can we make learning relevant for these futures?
  5. What is the most fundamental part of learning for your pupils, and what works best for them?
  6. What role can outside agencies/companies play in making learning relevant?


The UKEdChat session began with the community discussing what aspects of teaching and learning are they able to make relevant. Most UKEdChatters seemed upbeat that they were able to make most aspects relevant. Interestingly, few chatters lamented the loss the of the requirement to teach to a National Curriculum, but exam requirements were mentioned to be just as narrowing and prescriptive and acts in a similar manner. Having relevant materials and resources was also mentioned as important.

It seemed that most agreed that the curriculum was narrow in other classes/schools, but not the case in their own classroom and that the majority of what was taught was relevant to the pupils’ daily lives. Is it a fallacy that most teachers blindly teach towards a test or a curriculum? A few participants said that observed lessons and the day to day lesson when they were alone with their class were very different. A saint on paper, a teacher when the door is closed.

The answers to the third question seemed to be polar opposites. A minority of Chatters stated that the pupils have no right to question the teacher, even if the subject manner is irrelevant, while most seemed to suggest that they would spend time explaining the relevance and ensure that the pupils could see the wider context.

In answering the question about catering for pupils’ future, firstly many participants noted that this is difficult, but a broad base of skills, including adaptability, resilience and grit, would allow pupils to cope with a wide range of possible future needs. One chatter was vocal in the fact that it was simply his job to get them through the year of year exams and that was far enough ahead to think about.

For each of the final two questions, the answers were wider ranging and different so I would suggest you view the archive for a better picture of the conversation.

Engagement and relevance seem to go hand in hand.

From the conversation tonight it seems that teachers believe that pupils will tolerate a lot if they see there is a point to them studying a particular thing. This has clear implications for younger learners, who may not see the process clearly, but who constantly seek a goal or result, but may not have a clear idea of what they wish to do with their life. Older students may or may not have the opposite issue where they do have a clear idea of their future, but some topics and lessons seemingly do not help them towards this.

Making lessons relevant to one pupil’s current situation and future is daunting. Catering for 30+ is nearly impossible all of the time. Let it not be said that teachers don’t like a challenge!

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3195 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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