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I took a dare and taught a 7th grade biology class today.

I took a dare and taught a 7th grade biology class today.

I realized that I’m not terribly interested in teaching people who don’t want to learn.

Can you learn if you don’t want to? Take kids, say, maybe 13-year-old boys, for example. I’m not sure most of them want to learn anything. They don’t even want to learn how to play a video game, they just want to play the video game.

Last week I was helping out the biology teacher at my son’s middle (and high) school in The Netherlands. The teacher asked me if I could sub for her because the class was in English and I’d do fine and they liked me. Yeah, that qualifies me to teach biology. Oddly, I said yes.

How do teachers do it? How can they teach a class of kids who don’t want to learn? I suppose, at least what I remember from my mother telling me, is that even if there’s just one kid who you connect with, one kid who pays attention and learns something, it was worth it.

But wouldn’t it be more fun to teach a room full of raving fans?

I suppose there are schools somewhere on the planet where kids are hungry to learn. Wait a minute, I have seen them, but there not where you’d expect.

The poorer the country, the less education available, the more the kids want to learn. Visit a rural school in a third-world country and you’ll get kids who can’t wait to learn. For them, it’s a privilege, it’s a gift and it might be their ticket out of the poor rural town they live in.

Not all will succeed. Most will stay in the town. But a few will make it out and be “successful.”

I compare the biology class I taught today with some weekend workshops I’ve been to and it’s interesting how different the students are. Of course, it’s quite simple:

  1. The kids are there because they have to be there.
  2. The weekend workshop people are there because they truly want to be there.

It must make teaching more fun, rewarding and inspirational. But I understand the teacher who is also pleased to just reach one student. Because one student or 20 students, does it really matter? Only a small number are going to take the knowledge they gained on this one day and do something with it.

We just don’t know what that knowledge is or when that day is coming. So keep teaching.

Oh, and keep learning.


  1. Mom

    Well, it really is true and keeps coming back. The assistant at the YMCA who recognized me and said I “pushed” him to learn English, and after the year was over, he wanted to be an English teacher. Isn’t it something that he still remembers this? How many other kids remember you but you never know about it. Probably the vast majority. Of course, some may remember “less positive” experiences…..

    • Bradley

      But it seems worth it even just for those few that do remember!


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