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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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There are many people who made this book possible by providing support and encouragement along the way. I would like to first express my indebtedness to my beloved husband Stephen Boyanton—a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, who has been a friend, a supporter, a mentor, and most importantly, an editor of my work. Stephen has always shown great interest and confidence in my work and has become so familiar with my theory that he frequently cites it as a means of analyzing his own educational experiences. Seeing his response to my theory has given me a great deal of encouragement and confidence.

Stephen has also been a great supporter of my writing. By the time I signed the contract with Peter Lang in March 2009, I was already two months pregnant with our daughter Ellen. Originally, I planned to finish this book before Ellen was born—I thought the writing would flow easily since I had so many ideas about my theory. However, this proved excessively ambitious. It became challenging to find time to write after Ellen’s birth. There seemed to be always other more urgent and important things that needed my attention. I was unable to seriously commit myself to my writing and the book was delayed for at least two years. Another reason for the delay was that I often experienced writer’s block where I felt stuck and my mind went blank. Again, the main reason was that I was unable to find...

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