Cool, Connected, and Successful or Make Learning Meaningful | Alden Blodget | 11 Min Read

April 17, 2023

Attitude usually plays an essential role in success. In my experience, the most successful students tend to see themselves as students and feel a sense of pride in being a student. Learning matters to them; they want to learn (which is very different from merely wanting a good grade). They are intellectually alive and curious, and they believe they can learn. They aren’t ashamed to be seen studying; they aren’t ashamed of achievement.

Unfortunately, too many young people don’t see themselves as students—even those with the highest grades. Too many take no pride in the essay they write or in understanding new concepts. They read, write, solve problems, and memorize to get the work done, in, and over with—always on the lookout for a shortcut (like a friendly chatbot). Instead of exciting their imagination or intellect, books put them to sleep. And those who have never done well in school often believe they are stupid and convince themselves they can’t learn. For them, the classroom feels like a dungeon of failure and humiliation. Studying is not cool.

Being an athlete is cool; belonging to the popular crowd is cool; rebellion or cynicism is cool; partying is…

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Alden Blodget

Veteran teacher and administrator Alden S. "Denny" Blodget is the author of "Learning, Schooling and the Brain: New Research vs. Old Assumptions." He also helped create the Annenberg Foundation's Neuroscience & the Classroom. He is the editor for, a free online resource focusing on issues affecting young people and the adults who work with them.