Topic 3 Keeping students interested

According to numerous psychological and pedagogical theories, the best way to answer the question about maintaining young people’s interest (motivation) in the subject of classes is to get to know the interests and, to a lesser extent, students’ abilities. Their interests are the main driving force behind a young person’s activity. They drive them to independently explore and gain experience in a given field and are relatively stable over time.

You can initiate getting acquainted with the interests of young people in many ways, depending on the specifics of your classes. In many cases, individual conversations will be the most appropriate, during which there will be an opportunity to build trust in the relationship and learn the details reserved only for selected people – this may be important, for example, in the work of a trainer or guardian of a small group, or also for therapeutic purposes. However, we can safely assume that various forms of group exploration of students’ interests will be the most widely used, as they are more effective and less time-consuming. Organizing integration classes, during which young people can present their passions, tell what they are interested in and do not like, will be enough to design practical educational activities. Just remember to provide students with conditions in which they are respected and no one judges their interests or how they are presented.

Linking the lesson plan to students’ interests may be challenging, especially when working with large groups. The fewer students in the group, the easier it is to find common interests and, for example, enable them to listen to music together (e.g., in each class, someone else decides what kind) during physical activities where it will not interfere. In this way, they will also associate these activities with pleasure, which – based on Pavlov’s classical conditioning – will significantly increase their interest in the content of the activities. In the case of numerous groups, it is worth considering using the project method and dividing students according to their interests into smaller groups, assigning them tasks that combine the educational goal of the project with a given claim.