Engagement vs Ownership

We’ve been hearing and reading a lot about technology making learning more engaging for students. Ask any kid to describe school and they will almost unanimously reply “Boring!” so making it more interesting and engaging would be a huge step forward.

More engaged kids = more possibility for learning, improved attendance, fewer discipline problems. It seems like a simple formula for success; but it has its limits.

Face it, kids go to OUR schools, and participate in OUR version of their education. Most kids don’t feel ownership of their own education and learning. School is something we make them do. It’s compulsory. What we get in return is compliance, the lowest level of commitment. They bring their bodies to school; but their minds…well, their minds are their own. Recent data shows that 78% of our students report doing the bare minimum in school. If we’re lucky, they play our game, and go on to college or “the real world”, whatever that may imply.

Our true challenge is to develop a culture where the students in our schools “own” their education; where they see the school as THEIRS; not ours. Having students so empowered that they want a voice in how their school is run, what is taught, and who teaches it; does not diminish our own importance as educational leaders. As partners with student learners in the educational enterprise, we open the door to schools that are truly alive, and effective.

The alternative is maintaining a system run by adults that disenfranchises learners; and struggles for ways to maintain the interest of the uninterested.

As Gary Stager says, “Less us; more them.”


See: Youth Initiative High School

Note: This is part of a summer series experiment with brief posts.


One thought on “Engagement vs Ownership

  1. We’re in the same mental neighborhood here. If curriculum is irrelevant, so is any
    “classroom 2.0.”

    I’m exploring the “unschooling” approach right now in my readings and writings. The biggest reservation I have about leaving education to the students is that they need someone besides soft news and status quo bias to lead them to greener mental pastures. I play with the idea of teachers as “futurist guides” as a possible solution. (It’s long, so see the last half for this part.)

    You might find this post on unschooling and Illich a conversation to join.

    Enjoyed your post~

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