On student engagement

Excerpt from a previous post:

Student engagement

A good lecturer will be engaging for his audience, and a good teacher will create lessons that engage students by accessing their prior knowledge, and using what they already know as a springboard into knew ideas. This is good pedagogy.

However, student engagement can be problematic. There are kids who, for myriad reasons, are very, very difficult to engage. Teachers are being brow-beaten with the idea that they must “engage students”. This isn’t fair. While the teacher must do the best he can to engage children, the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” holds true. The teacher has no control over most of the factors that decrease student engagement.

Engagement is the purview of the student. Most often it is a choice. Even the most monotonous lecture can be a brilliant learning opportunity if the learner is tuned in. It’s a ridiculous assertion that it’s the teacher’s fault or the “system’s” fault that a student is disengaged. No responsible parent would ever say to a child, “That’s okay. You don’t have to do it if it’s boring.”

The teacher should make learning “accessible”, but “engagement” is up to the student.



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