Ewan posted a link to a recent Mark Prensky talk that, despite being cutoff halfway through was well worth the listen on my early morning jog just now. (The toils of reinvention…) Even though I’ve come to find the whole natives/immigrants metaphor a bit overcooked, he does a great job of articulating how it is that kids are becoming more and more “engraged” by the irrelevance of what we teach and how we teach it. For all our talk about learning, it’s a pretty simple equation when you think about it. We learn when we practice those things that engage us. Engagement, of course, can be motivated by many different things both intrinsic and extrinsic, but ultimately I think relevance, challenge and pleasure are the keys. Under those circumstances, we’ll practice as much as we need to learn the content or the skills.
But as I was listening to him talk about students’ saying “engage us or enrage us,” I started thinking about the level of engagement of our teachers especially in terms of these technologies. If we are being asked to engage kids where they are, how do we engage teachers to take on that task? Sure, it’s easy to say that as educators we have to rethink our classrooms and our pedagogy, that we have to employ new practices to prepare our students for a different learning environment. But how do we really engage them to do that? David writes about Telling a New Story, and I do think that we need to create some new narratives about teaching and learning to share. But the hugely difficult question is how do we engage teachers to become the types of learners that their students are becoming? How do we engage teachers to rethink their roles in the classroom now that their students have just as much access to information as they do (with some exceptions)? How do we engage teachers to become lifelong learners and to model that learning in more transparent ways?
Fifty percent of all new teachers leave the profession in two years. Something tells me they are probably more enraged than engaged…
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