There, I've said it! Well maybe not quite...
What I mean is: Schools should go to kids - meet them on their turf.
Genuinely engage them. Find out what makes them 'tick.'
Use the technology they use on a day-to-day basis.
In my opinion too many teachers, schools and parents mistake conformity for engagement. The kid who does what's expected, when they're expected and without too much fuss, well, they're 'engaged.'
I'd argue that it's quite possible (and quite likely in a lot of cases) that these kid's aren't genuinely engaged at all. They're just playing the game. Playing the system. And the system rewards them.
But it is not uncommon to see high-performing students drop out within the first year of their undergraduate course. Why are our most successful school students failing their first test of ''real life?''
The fact is that while most schools do a good job of getting kids through exams (some schools do exceptionally well, you only need to look at the school league tables to see that) only a few institutions genuinely prepare students for 'real life.'
The government isn't helping either. With the push to standardise everything from what is taught in the classroom to how schools assess and report on their students, it's getting harder to personalise the education of our children and to ensure that it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
The standardisation of education is turning our schools into factories, and our children into mere products on the production line. And some of the products are faulty.
Too many students leave secondary school either not knowing what they're good at; or only knowing what they're good at. This often leads to them studying or working in fields that have no intrinsic rewards. They do it purely for the status or monetary reward. In short; they are not engaged with what they do.
Blatantly thieving from Dan Pink - true engagement requires three things.
Autonomy - To choose how, what, where and when students learn.
Mastery - Learning for the sake of getting better - regardless of whether you need to know it or not for the test. Does having a syllabus "cap" what kids need, and therefore want to learn?
Purpose - If the only reason for kids learning something is that it's on the test, is that good enough?
What opportunities could your school provide to really "engage" its students, whilst still delivering the mandatory curriculum?
But let's not just worry about the kids.
How "engaged" does your school allow its teachers to be? I'd argue probably not as much as they should be. That's not the fault of the head teacher necessarily, more it's a reflection of the pressures that the system places on individuals.
The best form of education is role modelling. If teachers aren't allowed to role model genuine engagement, is there much chance for our kids?
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