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Making Homework Relatable

Growing up as a student, I struggled in many classes. Not to say that I suffered from a learning disability, however it was very hard for me to make course material I was learning feel relatable or even applicable to the real world. I was also a very visual person, and unfortunately many of the classroom settings that I grew up in did not have sufficient technology, and tended not to focus on this aspect of learning too heavily. I studied hard. However I constantly felt the need to read and reread my textbooks and notes just to memorize information. Courses that focused on listening comprehension and auditory cues were not my friends, and as a result I often found it strange how a classroom would be staged to reward and benefit those who were able to memorize information over those who tended to think outside the box.    

A good example of how I might describe this experience can be seen when asking for directions. If you live in an area for a long enough you start to develop a mind map of your surroundings. Landmarks just as much as major street names become important when navigating. In fact, most of the time it even makes things easier. We all inform people and give them direction based on these visual and non-visual cues, and needless to say, both are equally important. It is for this reason that finding a way to make information relatable becomes key in helping struggling students over come fear and anxiety with problem solving in school.   

Below is a link to a TED Talk by high school math teacher Dan Meyer. In his talk he describes the aversion kids have to facing and solving mathematical problems and how much, if not all of it, can be overcome by prompting people to approach the subject matter in a more practical way.

His message is simple and yet very effective in stating that we have numerous resources at our disposal to help students succeed. Obtaining knowledge can be approached in many different ways and everyone works and learns at their own pace and ability. Having good, supportive and relatable teachers always helps. And in the end, it becomes incredibly rewarding when you help students figure out an approach to problems that works best for them.
Selim A
Concept Designer, Photoshop, Art, and Math
University of Cincinnati
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