Keeping it Real Makes Stuff Stick

I was helping a 15 year old niece with her homework. She said: “What is the point of learning history if I can just google it all on my phone? Same with maths. Waste of time.”
We were doing a history assignment (oops sorry she kept correcting me it was an ‘assessment’) about the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War where many New Zealanders and Australians died.
She was just ‘not’ engaged, and the Facebook and text interruptions just kept coming, in her world far more engaging and relevant that stats and info about a war many, many years ago.
The exercise was to learn how to use multiple sources, write bibliographies etc.
It was hard going,  yep, actually boring, and I was struggling to convince her about the value of the project.
Then as we got to some photo resources, my young friend was really moved by the commemorative wall covered in the names of those who had died. She said it made her emotional. She had seen the wall on a field trip to the War Memorial Museum.
Here it finally made some sense. She became engaged in the whole project.

One question in the assessment was about why remembering the event was important today. She had the answer from her personal experience.
So how often do we miss the heart connection in pieces of work?
The connection here shifted the chore and grind of doing something that did not seem relevant to something that clearly made sense in her world today.
The very best teachers engage hearts and minds, when they have the time and support to do so.
But I wonder how often this is the exception rather than the rule?
We ended up having a good time with this piece of work, learning about the objectivity and point of choosing and comparing multiple sources ( so easy Not to do with Google at your finger tips these days) and bringing a piece of history to life.
The key is to start with a connection, clear about Why, and then the rest of learning, even the hard yards, falls into place.

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