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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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Final Thoughts


I have finished introducing the mutual value theory in the preceding chapters, I would like to add few key principles that are important for readers to know when they apply the mutual value theory in the actual educational setting.

First, as emphasized several times, “value” is the essential element or condition in almost every factor that is related to learning. Mutual value theory requires all teachers and parents to have a true value and appreciation for others and be sincere in expressing this to others. Only when this “value” becomes meaningful and powerful will students feel that the teacher has true value and appreciation for them. No matter how negative teachers might feel toward a student, how frustrated they are with a certain behavior, or how much a student drives them crazy, they need to remind themselves that their guiding principle is to find value, such as strength and potential, in students.

Second, although I have asked all of my teacher readers to always keep their goal of learning in mind, the noncognitive aspect of learning (authenticity) is equally or even more important than the cognitive aspect of learning (powerfulness). Mutual value theory requires teachers and educators to see their students as human beings first and to be considerate toward their human needs and feelings, especially those of feeling accepted and valued in their own ways. Teachers have to constantly keep their students’ needs in mind—their physical, psychological, social, and safety needs, among...

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