I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show on the way to work this morning. Great podcast! His guest said, "I'm terrible at things I am not interested in."
A pretty obvious point of view that tends to escape a lot of folks in education. When kids are not good at something, it just might be because they are not interested. When they are good at something, there is a good chance they find it interesting!
If kids are not good at something, perhaps we need to stop trying to provide interventions and remediation until we have found a way to make it interesting. There are many ways to do it! There are also two popular strategies that simply do not work.
1. A teacher cannot simply convince a kid that an assignment is interesting. You can't talk them into it.
2. You will not garner their interest by telling them it will affect the job they get some day. I don't know too many fifth graders who give credit to their future job aspirations for their interest in an assignment. I know tons of high school kids who believe whole-heartedly that they will never use algebra. Most of them are correct
When your students say, "This is boring," they are telling you it is not interesting.
When your students say, "This is cool!" they are telling you that it is interesting. Ask why and I bet they explain how it connects to something they find important.
Make the connections and make it interesting!