Subject selection: Feeling positive toward learning

04 August 2022

Subject selection: Feeling positive toward learning

If we reflect on our own learning experiences at school, no doubt there will be a range of emotions. Often, our memories are not specific to the content that we learned, but to the teacher or the subject more generally.

Research into student learning supports this, with a large body of evidence reinforcing an intuitively known belief that students’ motivations and feelings about learning are just as important as the content of their learning. It is not just what we learn, but how we feel about what we learn, which counts in the long term (Arnold, 2005). Typically, if we enjoy what we are learning, or how we are learning it, we tend to care more about it, and have more positive feelings toward the learning experience. Similarly, when we don’t care, learning can feel mechanical, apathetic, or just perfunctory.

This notion of caring about what we are learning and finding joy in being creative, curious, bold and tenacious learners, is what I ask students to hold in the forefront of their minds as they consider elective subjects over the coming weeks. As students in Year 8 and Year 10 express their subject preferences in the upcoming process, teachers are often asked for advice and guidance. After almost two decades as a teacher, I can whole heartedly suggest that students choose subjects that they enjoy. Their reasons for enjoyment might differ considerably, but when a student is intrinsically motivated, their efforts and results are often more fulfilling than when they are driven by extrinsic motivation. As your child discusses the subject options with you, I encourage you to ask them questions that cause them to reflect on their enjoyment of the subject. Ask if they think the subject is meaningful and important. Question their reasons for choosing the subject. Remind them about the length of time for which they will be studying it – is it something they can sustain? I suggest steering students away from playing the game of which subject might scale better in the HSC, or which subject their friends will be choosing.

We encourage you to have frequent and open conversations with your children about their learning. They are also more than welcome to speak to any of the teachers about their learning and subject options as they rise. Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for information regarding subject selection in Stage 5 and an Information Evening for parents and students moving into Stage 6.

Mrs Natalie Bluhdorn
Academic Head

Back to All News