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Teachers and Students as Co-Learners

Toward a Mutual Value Theory


Dengting Boyanton

Teaching is hard. Many teachers find it stressful. New teachers often lose their enthusiasm. The special education population is skyrocketing. Students are losing their motivation. What has gone wrong? How can we create powerful learning in students? Most importantly, how can we bring joy back to the classroom? Mutual value theory, as developed by Dengting Boyanton, asserts that to generate powerful learning, four essential values must be instilled in both students and teachers:
1. self-value – both students and teachers value themselves highly
2. perceived self-value—both consider themselves to be highly valued by others
3. other-value – both value each other highly
4. course-value – both value the course highly
Since 2007, the author has applied this theory to her classroom teaching and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Students describe her courses as motivating, engaging, enjoyable, respectful, and empowering. Based on both theory and personal teaching experiences, Teachers and Students as Co-Learners: Toward a Mutual Value Theory will help readers develop a deeper understanding of learning, re-ignite their enthusiasm, and, most importantly, create powerful teaching and learning in the classroom.


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Part II: Four Types of Values


part ii four types of values . 5 . self-value Meaning of Self-value Self-value is the first value that is critical in creating authenticity. Self- value refers to the individual’s own evaluation of the self as a person, such as judging whether one is a valuable person, has positive qualities or potentials, and is useful to others or the society. Applying this to the classroom setting, self-value means that a student sees himself as a good/competent student, or that a teacher sees himself as a good/competent teacher. In short, self-value is a person’s appraisal about self (e.g., “I think I am a good student.” “I think I am a good teacher.”) Since this self-assessment is frequently done in a social setting when an individual interacts with others, it can be divided into different types. First, based on the specific areas of self-value, it can be divided into general self- value and specific self-value. General self-value refers to the overall self- evaluation, such as “I am a very good student overall.” Specific value refers to one’s self-evaluation in a specific area, such as “I am good at math;” “I am terrible at statistics;” “I am a very good dancer but a horrible presenter.” Specific self- value is similar to Bandura’s (1986b) concept of “self-efficacy.” The difference between self-efficacy and specific self-value is that specific self-value does not 126 teachers and students as co-learners just include what the individual thinks of himself in the present tense, but also in the future tense (“What I...

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