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Teachers and Students as Co-Learners

Toward a Mutual Value Theory

Series:

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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Preface

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Many people have asked me how I became interested in classroom learning and what inspired me to develop the mutual value theory. I always tell them that there are two main reasons. The first is the fascination with teaching and learning I have had ever since I was a little child. I was a top student at my Chinese school and I enjoyed helping my classmates with questions about our schoolwork. I liked pondering what would be the best way of explaining things so that it would make the most sense to them.

The second reason was my experience in the U.S. as an international student. Although my interest in learning began a long time ago, I did not begin to conduct serious research on classroom learning until I came to the U.S. for my graduate study at the University of Virginia in 2003. Coming from China’s unique educational system and completely different classroom praxis, I experienced an extreme culture shock during my first two years of study here. I did not know how to interact appropriately with my peers or instructors. I was unsure of how to respond to my teachers’ or peers’ comments in the classroom and I was often confused. What kind of behavior was acceptable and what was not? What kind of relationship should I expect to establish with my peers and instructors? And how intimate should I be with them? I often found myself being frowned upon when I tried to...

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