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Instructor answers oft-asked question in new book for students

RELEASED: April 29, 2011

Kolis with book
Dr. Michael Kolis

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Michael Kolis, an associate professor of education studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has answered the quintessential question "Why do I have to know this stuff?" in a new book for students.

Kolis spent a part of his teaching career in a small steel mill town. One day a student told him that in two weeks he would turn 18, drop out of school, work at the local steel mill and make more money than Kolis. He then asked Kolis why he had to learn what was being taught.

"Without a good answer, you're doomed," Kolis said. "That was such a disturbing question because I didnt have a good answer."

Kolis has a good answer today, which can be found in his newly published book, "Student Relevance Matters: Why do I have to know this stuff?"

Kolis described the moment with the student from the steel mill town as an impetus. However, after finishing the book, it spent about six years on Kolis' computer, untouched. That all changed when one day, thanks to his youngest son. Kolis said that while he was encouraging his son to focus on and finish his homework, his son gave him grief about not finishing what he started — his book.

"He was right," said Kolis, who then began pursuing publishing options. The book was released by Rowman & Littlefield Education in March.

At the beginning of the book Kolis explains the current system of approaching learners, which is based on sorting students instead of teaching students. After that, he clarifies why he thinks students should know about the subjects they're learning beyond just taking exams. For example, Kolis said that students study social studies to explore the human experience and math to look at patterns.

"There is a purpose to all the fields," he said. "We just don't know what it is. If we know what it is, then we can help students connect to content.

While Kolis isn't currently using the book as a textbook for his students, the ideas in his book are already a part of his courses, he said.

For more information about "Student Relevance Matters: Why do I have to know this stuff?" contact Kolis at kolimw@uwec.edu.

-30-

BS/RD/DW

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