Changing to Become More Engaging
The way we engage our students today should be vastly different than the way we engaged them years ago. Unfortunately, we have kept the same model of education forever and with the aspect of technology, the model just doesn’t fit the students anymore. In the book, Engaging ‘Tweens and Teens, Raleigh Philp begins the first chapter by sharing what is known about the brain and learning. Keeping education the same has not let the learning process take its course like when students used to research in books piles high. It would allow them to have to read through and fully comprehend the information for their school research. Now, technology is at our fingertips and it doesn’t take much to look something up on Google and then quickly forget it. It’s a phenomenon that is even mentioned in the book through the lens of a college student. Her professor asked her class a science question, and frustration shook the room. After much of this struggling, she raised her hand and said. “I didn’t care that we had to think. All I wanted to do was ‘Google it’ to find the answer.”
The answer to this is to think ahead of the rapidly evolving environment. The future of education should not rely too heavily on technology. The students of today will develop an intolerance to learning. At the core of it, it all comes down to three main overlapping sciences, biology, psychology, and chemistry. The research in these areas help teachers understand the structure and development of the brain’s stages of maturity. Extensive research shows that the brain is best at learning when it needs to survive. A typical student’s brain does not rank academic success high on the to do list for this reason, but what if academic success relied heavily on survival in the real world? It would only be then where students would be engaged to learn because of the need of that survival in the future. Without learning crucial information, it will be very hard to live a comfortable life. Of course we do not want to enact fear into these students, but we want to make them understand that learning these specific skills are a crucial part of being an adult. This is where it is important to understand the development of students. The skills that are tailored towards adulthood are of course for the students in high school. Understanding the way the adolescent brain works will help find that perfect time to introduce these skills. Just like there is a pivotal point when a baby learns how to walk, there is a pivotal point when teenagers learn how to deal with the adult world.
It’s time to be forward thinking. We need to take the old education model and shift it with today’s changes. Take a model schedule like Model A for example. This is your typical high school schedule that has been used for years.
|Period 7||Phys. Ed.|
This schedule uses the four main core subjects along with a language and a couple of electives to balance out the school’s graduation requirements. This model is not necessarily bad, but for the new era we are in, it needs a bit of revamping. The introduction of technology into the classroom can be beneficial in the speed of the class, but as stated previously, it could be a detriment to the free thinking minds of the youth. Technology creates an instant gratification that rids the want to figure out a problem only using the brain.
A more forward thinking model would be not to require an Intro to Business class where students spend most of their time discussing business terms that have no bearing on them, unless they are truly interested in studying this in the future. For the general population of students, they just take the class to receive the credit and graduate. Instead, make a class like psychology or finance a required class for everyone. The education system can also update the curriculums in core classes such as math and english to tackle more specific life skill topics. In between learning algebra and reading Shakespeare, there can be time to learn about tax and how to develop the proper interviewing skills for a job. This new schedule would look like Model B.
|Period 1||Math (with new integrations) or Finance|
|Period 3||English (with new integrations)|
|Period 7||Phys. Ed.|
|Period 8||Child Development|
Model B, not quoting it exactly because there is some push and pull, but this layout would be much more beneficial to high school students. It incorporates a similar format to the original schedule, but there is now more of a purpose with some new curriculum or requirements. Psychology is beneficial to understanding the mind, while child development is beneficial to knowing how to take care of a child either by babysitting or a child of one’s own. Another element of this model is to lessen the dependability of technology. The idea is to promote free thinking instead of the Google scavenger hunt. Technology would not be eradicated, but the use of it would be different. Students need to exercise their minds while they’re still moldable so that the idea of thinking isn’t such a painful experience. Once these changes are put into motion, the new results will slowly ease, but the future results will better prepare students for getting a job, or interviewing for a college, and much more. Overall, the practice of more conversational free thinking will allow for their voices to be heard and for them to be able to make an impact on the society they will soon be a part of.
Marshall. (1997). Does education and training get in the way of learning?. Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, USA.
Philp. (2007). Engaging ‘Tweens and Teens. Corwin Press.