Despite their importance, classes can get boring pretty soon. Growing up, children often tend to move away from education as seen from a high level of dropouts in student populations in many areas. National Center for Education Statistics in USA estimated that less than half of their students had an adequate level of proficiency in science. The numbers deteriorated for older students. Subpar performances of students in mathematics, reading and science, can also be seen in more recent assessments like PISA 2012. Besides economic and social barriers, studies have also shown that a lack of engagement can cause students’ grades to decline – a problem that can be addressed by ensuring their engagement outside the classroom.
Could it be, that for some students (like me), studies isn’t actually interesting enough?
Sitting around with books, for hours on end, all day long, 365 days a year, generally has never filled me with enthusiasm. Just like many others, my grades started dropping as I grew up. At one point, I just hated everything I studied. None of the subjects seemed interesting. I had no idea what I was studying for, no idea what the study material would be used for in the future. All I knew, was that I had to study so I could get into a decent college. And then – I would have to study even more!
Luckily, four years before I graduated from high school, our school decided to send interested participants to a science conference. Around 30 of us were divided into three groups and were assigned a project each. More than the projects, I joined to stay back after school, with my friends. But, the experience at the conference itself was quite unexpected.
The conference had various schools participating with over fifty stalls set up overall. The one I was mainly drawn to was a section on animation and graphic design. It was the first time I fell in love with computers. I don’t remember the school that had set up the stall. But remember their project. It was a presentation on the filming of Andy Serkis and the consequent steps involved in the animation of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Throughout middle school, I consistently underperformed in my Computer Science classes. As in I barely passed, and sometimes even failed. I didn’t own a computer and never found the classes in school interesting enough to like the subject. All we had been taught till then, was to use MS Office 2003 and the basic usage of Windows.
However, that was the deciding year for the allotment of additional subject the year after. Among others, one of the options was Computer Applications. I remember joining a tuition that year. I scored just enough to opt for Computer Applications as the optional for my board examinations. I, personally, have never regretting that decision.
I’m glad I got to visit the conference when I did. I never ended up pursuing animation or web design like I initially wanted to. But the trip got me hooked on a subject that I previously used to detest.
Research has shown that high school students benefit from actively participating in academic conferences. Getting a look at the incredible things they could build with what they’re learning could certainly be a huge motivating factor and also provide them with some clarity and sense of direction.