248.  HELP:   My most difficult time is when I am in the inclusion class and I am sitting in the back of the class and see students who don’t want to learn.


Students who do NOT want to learn . . . .!!!!!   YES!!!  A real challenge!!!!!!

I DO have them in my classes in Los Angeles!!!!!  They are literally in ALL classes!!!!!

As I think about this problem, I know that some of these reluctant learners DO want to learn things that interest them, whatever these interesting topics may be (and in some cases the topics may be highly interesting BUT highly inappropriate).   What to do?

One of the things that concerns me the most as I analyze educational systems today is how little these systems care for INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, for developing to the maximum each unique student’s potential talents.  

Our educational system is test driven: there has to be

total uniformity of learnings,

total uniformity of “covered” topics,

total uniformity of textbooks,

total uniformity of test results so that administrators can make

totally irrelevant statements about student learning.

At the same time, our test-driven educational system is immersed in a fully technological society where there is incredible accessibility of information and incredible variety in the accessed information. 

Thus, our test-driven educational system continues to operate with 19th Century early-industrialized society principles.  But our own 21st Century society where this test-driven 19th Century educational system operates requires very CREATIVE individuals, IMAGINATIVE industrialists, INNER-DRIVEN talented inventors, FUTURE-DREAMERS to deal with never encountered problems in incredibly complex world-wide entrepreneurial societal organizations.

Thus, I ask: Is it really that our classes are populated by “students who do not want to learn” . . . . or is it that our educational system needs to radically change so that students pursue their own talents, interests, callings, motivation, inner-direction?

I agree we may all need to learn certain key concepts, certain key ideas; maybe we all need to learn about verbs, nouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc.  But do we ALL need to learn these key ideas using the

same materials, reading the

same books, sitting in the

same classrooms, listening to the

same teachers, all at the

same time, on the

same day, in exactly the

same way as presented in the

same textbook we all need to have in front of us?

In my own teaching, I try to encourage EACH and EVERY student to pursue his or her own interests, no matter what we are learning.   Thus, for example, as we read the book entitled “Krakatoa” I ask my students to research very different topics in the Internet relating to this book.   The research that they do because they want to do it, is more important to me that the actual reading of the book.   I try to provide as many different avenues to complete assignments as possible.   For example, in studying the parts of speech, verbs and nouns and adjectives, we use cutout pictures and headlines from many different newspapers and magazines.  These different magazines and newspapers all have all parts of speech so we can learn from many types of sources!

Maybe we need to consider how to change our educational system INSTEAD of how we need to change the students to conform to our very rigid educational system where test-driven requirements make us ignore INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES.

Meantime, here are some proven suggestions to deal with the reluctant learner:

1.                  PRAISE, praise, and more praise whenever they DO pay attention or decide to learn something.   We must constantly state our true belief that ALL students can learn and ALL students want to learn, even if at the present moment they ACT as if they do NOT wish to learn.

2.                  Provide students with choices:  they can do this assignment, or that assignment, or an assignment that they decide to do.   They may check with you BEFORE undertaking their self-defined assignment.  You can establish the GENERAL guidelines for an assignment and let students decide what they wish to do.

3.                  Encourage students to use the digital media, audio-visual resources, books, newspapers, and even personal sources for their assignments.  

4.                  Encourage self-expression –in addition to other requirements you may demand.   Maybe they wish to do a multimedia presentation, or talk about pictures or visual representations of their topic.   Students can and should be CREATIVE.

5.                  The latest brain research seems to suggest that students need to develop their very OWN unique way to make meaning.   We need to provide multiple means to handle the concepts/ideas/information we wish them to understand.   But in the end, EACH individual creates its own unique internal meaning schema based on the unique experiences s(he) has had.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
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Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


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