The Power of Practical Application

Why ask students to memorize historical dates when they could interview war veterans and produce a documentary? Shouldn’t a chemistry class create an eco-friendly cleaning solution rather than purchasing one? And won’t math students learn more if they develop a financial plan and budget for a fledgling nonprofit organization?

Connecting education to practical application improves engagement and retention. Students are encouraged to pursue their own projects and passions, help their community, and ultimately make the world a better place.

What Is It?
Practical application applies education to the real world. Instead of students grinding out a list of arithmetic problems, practical application may ask them to mathematically determine how many pieces of art can fit on the wall for the school art show. A biology class could plan a farm-to-table charity night, where students grow and prepare meals for the hungry.

Practical application demonstrates how different subjects work in tandem toward a goal. For instance, a philosophy teacher may encourage students to ponder charitable giving while their math teacher instructs them to plan their own business. A student may decide to incorporate charitable giving into its business model, thus using their mathematical knowledge to structure their company.

Why It Works
According to renowned workplace author Daniel Pink, a successful, motivated learner requires three things: autonomy, purpose, and mastery.

Where does autonomy come in? Let’s say a history class is learning about World War II. The student can choose which aspect of the war fascinates them, knowing their purpose isn’t “what do I have to do to get a grade?” but rather, “it’s the last time in the world we’ll have World War II vets with us, so what do I have to do to tell my great-grandfather’s story before he’s gone?” It’s now their job to capture these memories. Students studying journalism can partner with video production students to produce a documentary in the school’s film studio. The mastery is because it could end up online or on the local news for everyone to see, and it has immediate application.

How to Do It
First, students will learn how to incorporate a real-world example. For example, a Spanish class may transform into a restaurant, incorporating the values of farm-to-table cooking by asking students to prepare the meals and then asking them to take turns playing guests and waiter. The whole time, everyone communicates in Spanish.

However, teaching something like ionic compounds might require more out-of-the-box thinking. For example, students may take a field trip to the river so they can test the water for heavy metal contamination.

Practical application encourages students to use their knowledge outside the classroom to create beauty and solve problems worldwide. Students learn how to think, not what to think, and build their confidence as they demonstrate God’s love to the world and better their communities.

At North Tampa Christian Academy, a private school in Wesley Chapel, the faculty, staff, and families work as a team. Our service-oriented approach builds Christian leaders who think deeply, choose wisely, create beauty, and use their dreams to solve problems. Want to learn more about what makes us different? Contact us today.