No single thought has roiled its way through my mind or my network more than the notion that engaging and empowering students are NOT the same thing.

(See here, here and here.)

I’m at the point where the suggestion that it’s a teacher’s responsibility to “engage their students” actually rankles me a bit.  It’s not that I think teachers can’t play a role in creating engaging learning experiences for students or that I think teachers who are passionate about engaging their students are inherently evil in any way.

It’s just that all too often, “I need to engage my students” becomes code for “I have to find a way to make the boring crap I’m required to teach interesting” or “How can I sucker my kids into liking the lesson that I’m planning on teaching?”

(download slide on Flickr here)

I’m settling on the notion that engagement isn’t something that you do TO students.  Instead, it’s something that we should all be working to do FOR our students.  “I need to engage my students” needs to be reframed as “I need to help my students to find reasons to be excited about learning.”

To put it another way, kids don’t depend on us to “engage them.”  Instead, they depend on us to help them discover the content and questions that are inherently engaging.

Does any of this make sense?




Related Radical Reads:

Should We Be Engaging or Empowering Learners?

Turning the Vegetables You Want to Serve into the Vegetables Kids Want to Eat

Doing Work that Matters

Share this post: