Writing for the Educational Market
Most young children take naturally to a myriad of different subject areas. They love to explore and are naturally curious.
However, by the time these same children get to middle school and high school they have been "turned off" to learning, especially to technical subjects. To make your writing engaging for this market, it's important to appeal to the reasons why young adults learn.
So what promotes an interest in life-long learning, starting at middle-school and extending into adult life?
(1) Natural curiosity about a specific topic. I love hummingbirds so I have a natural interest in their migratory patterns.
(2) A tie-in that is engaging from another area. (For example, many more students are interested in art than in math, but there are thousands of ways to integrate art with math and, in doing so, students start seeing the beauty in mathematics as well.) Luckily, both mathematics and science have so many of these types of applications. Art, music, architecture, social networks, economics, business, all these areas and many more have very strong ties to math, science and history.
(3) A desire to create something of value that is dependent on the skill involved. I want to bake three cakes for a party on Saturday and so I need to multiply the fractions in the recipe by 3 so that I can make the batter all at once. I want to build a cabinet. I want to explore other galaxies.
(4) An inspiring teacher/s or mentor/s. I can trace my interest in mathematics to specific teachers who nurtured my interest at an early age.
(5) Strong parental and community support. Interest in learning must be fostered at home, but, if not, strong teachers and supportive friends can make a difference. My interest in writing goes back to the age of 3 when my mother encouraged me write simple sentences in a journal.
(6) The clear understanding of how these subject areas are interwoven into the fabric of every day life. In other words, how are these topics relevant to me? How do I interpret these statistics in the newspaper? How do I give the waitress a proper appreciative tip? How do I measure the tiles for the backsplash? How many ways can I organize my music collection?
(7) Ambition to get ahead in life. How can I be looked up to by my friends? How can I make more money? How can I master this task? How can I be a leader? How can I be an important asset to a team? How can I provide better for my family?
(8) A love for the journey and to experience the joy of discovery. A realization that every day is a new learning experience and that it's fun and exciting to sometimes just "go with the flow."
(9) Rewards for the achievement of learning or doing, both tangible and intangible. Personal pride, evolution of character, accolades from the public, kudos from your colleagues, pure joy from doing something you never thought you could do.
(10) Because other people I admire are learning it. Peer pressure!
These are not the only reasons to learn, but I think they are some of the most powerful.
Think of these reasons as you're writing for this market. Will a 13-year-old find Geometry more engaging because she's reading about how a girl her age came up with a new proof of the Pythagorean Theorem? Will a 16-year-old be motivated to learn more chemistry once he reads a story about how businesses test their products and what they do to insure safety so their experiments don't blow up?
If you write in a way that appeals to this market, you'll never be short of work.
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