Engagement in Education
Mar 10, 2016
One of the greatest problems in modern education, despite all the fancy technology and differentiated learning, is student engagement. How does a student engage with their process of learning?
In Steiner education we recognise the importance of three aspects of the human being which are engaged and enlivened through the education. The thinking process, the feeling, or emotional response, and the activity of the will, and generally we place them in this order of importance. However if the will cannot be engaged then the other two also become redundant.
The will is the primary source of engagement and learning.
Through the engagement of the will the other areas of learning are also engaged, as we are seeing in the implementation of the Venture Class and other High School class initiatives.
Out of engaging the will in moving bricks, building gardens and cleaning up, students are able to engage in the process first. Then when other areas of learning are approached, such as the maths, measurement and quantity, materials, design, history and so on, the student can gradually build a stronger relationship to their learning process.
We all know how hard it is to get your child off the lounge, away from the video game, to clean their room etc, and it can be just as hard to engage them in their lessons.
Some parents like to offer a reward or ‘carrot’ for doing the jobs, while others will even pay their children to work. But does this develop engagement?
In Friday Middle lessons the students are given an opportunity to develop their initiatives in self -learning. They have chosen a project which they have four weeks to complete and present.
Watching the process, from ideas driven by passions, into plausible realities, has been a real learning curve for them. For some, engaging their will to come up with an idea has been the greatest challenge. Others have forged ahead and are achieving great results. I can’t wait for presentation day.
On Tuesday morning a senior student group have been engaging their will in autumn pruning. While working quietly on their tasks they chat and interact, building social connections and strengthening their ‘sense of belonging’. This is process of building ownership, and we know when students ‘own’ something they are then fully engaged.
The senior students are at present renovating the old film room into their very own Senior Study Room, where they will develop their own codes of conduct, enforcement of rules and so on. This is giving them a true sense of ownership of not only the physical space, but more importantly, of the activities within.
Every student’s learning is dependant on their engagement in the process, and every measure possible must be developed to enhance this engagement. Unfortunately we live in a world full of distractions, and many practices of modern education are more about entertainment rather than learning.
Parents also play a huge role in a student’s engagement, through their own level of engagement in their child’s learning. Evidence has shown that where parents are actively engaged in their children’s school and the learning process, the students academic grades are improved, while their social interactions and behaviours are also greatly improved. We have reintroduced the school diary as a small measure to assist in parent involvement. Students will have written in their diaries when assignments or homework are due, and therefore parents can see what is due and how to help their children meet their deadlines and goals.
Here is the perfect example of where parents and school must be on the same page if children’s learning is to be best supported. If ‘will’ engagement is not supported at home and children are allowed to be inactive and disengaged, then the effectiveness of the school’s role is substantially diminished. It is always very easy to apportion a student’s disconnect to the nature of the lessons or the framework of the timetable, however take a moment to evaluate the home life situation so that a clearer picture can be determined.
Student’s learning and their engagement in their school life is our primary focus and we will work strategically to encourage each student to engage with their learning, and with life, as much as possible.
If you have any concerns in relation to your child and their learning journey please discuss it with your teachers or guardians, or arrange a meeting with me through the front office.
Norman (Director of Teaching and Learning)