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Eugene Frier

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How can we best engage college students in the idea of learning instead of just getting a degree?

I work at a 4 year, public university and I see a great deal of students who come to school to get their degree (which they equate to money/success) and do not care about learning. What are your thoughts on the best way to engage them in the actual process of learning. I have my thoughts, but would love to hear my fellow TEDsters thoughts.

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  • Mar 14 2013: It seems from a young age, students are not always encouraged to learn about things they're passionate about. Sure, some schools greatly encourage exploration of curiosity through demonstrations and interesting presentations for their young pupils, but many schools (and I can speak from personal experience) more than often just want to make sure their students to learn what they need to by the time they need to in order not to fall behind; we're learning to retain the information well enough to spit it back to standardized tests. This mindset follows us, and we don't find these things we're being forced to learn interesting because we're not recognizing that the subjects we study are broader than the basics we must be able to explain on tests. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we, as educators and older individuals, encourage learning and teach students. I find my best classes have not been the classes I did the best on or the classes which I easily passed tests, but the classes in which teachers provided me with real life applications and situations, theories, and knowledge that I found intriguing. Those classes weren't centered around learning material for a test rather than just teachers sharing their passion for a subject and how that subject relates to our everyday lives. Similarly, these classes are the ones which have shaped my drive to improve in math and sciences as well as my interest in the major I am now pursuing at college. If we can more encourage this method of education, I think students (of all ages) will be more engaged in learning, leading them to pursue a degree in which they'll care genuinely about the subjects which they are studying.

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