Terms and tools of engagement
Andy Hargreaves has an ambivalent attitude to technology. He doesn’t own a smart phone (because he might use it!) and he talked about being critical thinkers about engagement and dis-engagement. ‘We need to be where our kids are’ (he said, sans mobile phone) He aimed to disturb our preconceptions, but this was a strong session, the third time (I think) that I’ve heard Hargreaves.
He argued that historically …
2000-2015 – The age of achievement (of testing, NAPLAN, a sense of urgency around achievement, literacy and numeracy) ‘Beating the odds’
2015-2025 – The age of engagement and wellbeing. To ‘changing the odds’.
This was a call for more engagement: 43% of students at high school are, to some degree, disengaged from their learning and showed the challenges of an ‘average’ class (mental disorder, bullying, parent separations, self-harm …)
Engagement is a challenge, especially now. (He talked about the needs of refugees). The job of educators is to take the kids where they are now, and move them forward. Before achievement comes engagement. Engage the kids as they are, not how we’d like them to be.
Six ways to improve engagement
- Architecture / School design (validating students through symbols)
- Student voice
- Pedagogy – The future teacher will have less authority (around content) and more authority (the narratives from the ‘Ken Robinsons’ of the classroom: this seemed a weaker point)
- Technology – The Chromeboook and the climbing wall
- We have to stop disengagement – much of which comes about because of assessment.
Hargreaves ended by talking about teacher engagement; ‘A school that is good for a kid to be, has to be good for a teacher to be as well’
Terms of Engagement
There is no genuine achievement without engagement. Too often, we have overlooked the importance of engagement as a condition and a companion for achievement. This presentation describes the need to pay more attention to student engagement, to understand what engagement actually means, to address its importance for adult as well as students, and to learn how to enhance engagement for all, with and without technology. Drawing on his current and development work, award winning author Andy Hargreaves will, in his characteristic fashion, get us thinking harder and differently about the role of engagement in our schools.
Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan Chair, Lynch School of Education, Boston College (USA)