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…
Ewan McIntosh says
Thanks for alerting me to the fact that it cuts out. I hadn’t listened to the finished syndicated cast as I edited the whole thing several times 😉 I’m trying to export again right now and hopefully I’ll sort that out.
Bud Hunt says
Of course us early-career folks are enraged. We’re frustrated by a system that doesn’t meet OUR needs (as teachers and learners) or the needs of our students.
And we’re seen as foolish or inexperienced when we suggest ways to meet those needs. I completely understand why so many teachers leave after a few years of banging their heads against a brick wall.
(Hmm . . .that sounded much less bitter in my head than it does in print.)
Ewan McIntosh says
Don’t worry, Bud. I know EXACTLY what you mean.
Engaging Teachers on aBlog says
Teachers are the uninvited, but we want them to be engaged…. After a phase of initial enthusiasm and idealism, many teachers either leave the profession, or (worse) detach from it but remain. This physical and psychological exodus is a consequence of the profession itself and should be of surprise to no one. It takes very little time in teaching to realize that so far as the “experts” are concerned, being in the classroom is not only NOT a necessary requirement for knowing what should or CAN happen in a classroom, it’s practically a disadvantage. Teachers are characterized as “adopters” and “resisters”, but rarely are they characterized as visionaries, inventors, originators, experts in the field. The expectation is that teachers are actors, tools with which their betters enact theories or initiate change.
Fiona Andrew says
I am afraid I am one of those teacher. I left after two years. I am now in the role of supporting, advising and trying to inspire those still in the profession. Being in a company that is involved in changing the curriculum and issuing initiative on everything I am not that keen to go back into it. However the use of ICT in the classroom does inspire me to get back to working with kids which I sometimes have the opportunity to do in my current role so I guess I get the best of both worlds just now.