Thanks @bgrasley. Engagement again. I like your definition. I have tried to use this one: when anyone wants to learn something, they are engaged. It is not hard to tell if they want to learn something. Just watch a little kid with a new toy. Anyway, I wanted to also speak to engagement, as I have several times, but man, I have not solved this problem….would be rich if i did, I guess.
I think about why people want to learn. Pre-historically (I am not an archaeologist) I would say our ancestors wanted to learn to make things better or easier. Learning how to make and keep fire was important. There was a real reason to learn, and I am sure they all wanted to learn. The same for tools, shelter, etc. I was at Stonehenge last March. What made those people engaged enough to want to figure out how to do that?
When kids ask “why do we have to learn this”, I think they are thinking like are pre-historic relatives. If fire was not useful to them, they would not have had much reason to learn how to harness it. Yes, sitting by a fire and staring into the flames is cool, but if one is dodging stampeding Mastadons, one does not have time to gaze into the flames for entertainment. So, for so many years, we learned and wanted to learn to make our lives better. That meant that we were learning to create information. Once they knew how to make fire, and the first generation were teaching their young, the eye rolls probably started: why do we have to learn this, we already have fire”
So much of what we teach to kids, is stuff that someone else figured out. yes, stuff they need to know, but stuff someone else created. So, the spark, unless the kid wants/needs to know it for some reason, is not going to be naturally there. But if we can run our schools from an enquiry mode, throwout some that curriculum and let kids learn what there interested in, then we have a start. But, this is the Ivory Tower…I do not yet have the answers, but I know that how we are doing things is not working. As @bgrasley said, the extrinsic motivation only goes so far. Great for the kid who wants to be a lawyer, but what about the majority of kids who are not sure what is going on in the world? We have to engage their minds, and while I am soapboxing, man, oh man, or lady oh lady, does technology ever have a roll in that.
I was supervising kids the other day in the computer lab, who were watching a youtube video (gasp…) of a guy blowing stuff up….little bottles of ink. Mindless entertainment? Not in my mind, especially when it was repeated in super slow mo, showing the entire act slowly. And apparently, in the beginning of the video, he talks about the equipment he uses, the process to record, etc, etc. Yup, on Youtube…no need to buy all the stuff, learn how to do it, etc. It is right there. I can guarantee many of our teachers would not be aware of that video series, but how many would want to be “taught” about them by the students they “are teaching”, with their fancy BA and B.ed degrees? A bit facetious, I know, but hey, this is a blog and I can say what I want, because it will probably be blocked through a content filter anyway, right? Now @bgrasley, not sure if I tagged you properly in this…still not familar with with interface. Also did not grammar check (I mean myself, not electronically) or really read over….not intended to be a polished product, but instead it is a stream of rambling thoughts…I think….