Why some teens don’t engage with math and science classes

It is important for students to gain the best understanding that they are capable of achieving, so they are equipped with the life skills needed for when they enter society during their post-schooling years. If students dislike their school topics, then it makes it hard for us as educators to teach them such concepts. We need to emerge the learner in a range of activities that will connect them with the work. Keeping them interested is the key.

Chalk and talk methods are limited as they focus on a specific style, from which teenagers rebel against. It does however play a role when we need to achieve specific goals. Working from a text book has similar results, as it too plays a part. There are many topics where text books are not advantageous, as students dislike the idea of repetitively working from them. 

Many teachers like a constructivist approach, where students engage in a range of mathematics activities that involve kinesthetics/movement, working in groups, physically activities, games, information technology and plenty of hands on activities. Try to include at least one activity like one of those mentioned above within each lesson during this term of teaching. Chances are that the students are a lot happier doing these kind of activities.

Here are a few examples of constructive, rather than repetitive learning tasks:

  • Using Lego to build a crane to help with Pythagoras Theorem.
  • Collecting students’ sports data for Statistics.
  • Using string, trundle wheels and the soccer field for Pi.

Activities like these are great, as long as have the students unpack their findings after the activities. Students love to provide input about their own work, as it not only makes them feel useful, it also has made a connection with them.
The reason why students dislike math and science is due to the fact they are not being taught it in ways that will motivate them.

Here are some ways to motivate different types of students.

  • Find out what the student likes and dislikes.
  • Find out what goals the student have.
  • Provide a reason why the student needs to learn the work.
  • Use their goals to explain to them how this work is a median to their success.
  • Use their interests as basis for some of the activities, so they will enjoy doing their learning.

Using methods such as those described above can be a very successful way to engage most students.