I’m the chairman of the bored,
I’m a lengthy monologue
I’m livin’ like a dog
I bore myself to sleep at night
I bore myself in broad daylight coz
~ Iggy Pop
We know that boredom and disengagement are killers of potential in schools. We also know the cost to the individual, the community and the country of having large numbers of students disengaged from their education.
In classrooms they are disruptive, angry and non-compliant. In society they could be a waste of potential, socially discontented and expensive!
Disengaged young Australians are costing taxpayers a staggering $18.8 billion by increasing crime, clogging health services, relying on welfare and reducing tax revenue. That’s the finding of a report by Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute which highlights the grim consequences and cost of one in eight Australians never attaining a Year 12 qualification.
Student engagement is not a simple beast. It has different components:
- Behavioural engagement: Students do what students are supposed to do in class. They adhere to the rules and norms, and they display behaviours associated with persistence, concentration, and attention. They may ask questions and contribute during discussions.
- Emotional engagement : Reveals students’ attitudes toward learning. Those attitudes can range from simply liking what they’re doing to deeply valuing the knowledge and skills they are acquiring.
- Cognitive engagement: Involves effort and strategy use. It’s wanting to understand something and being willing to go beyond what’s required in order to accomplish learning goals. Those who are cognitively engaged use strategies associated with deep learning.
“Engagement in learning is critical to academic achievement and providing students with the understandings, knowledge, skills and confidence to move on into training, employment and higher education. … Engagement is critical because it makes a difference to academic achievement and fosters in students a sense of belonging and self-worth. In addition, ‘engaged learners are doers and decision- makers who develop skills in learning, participation and communication that will accompany them throughout adulthood.’ And its definition: Engagement is a construct involving three dimensions: behavioural (involvement); affective (personal attachment to others, such as teachers and classmates); and cognitive (application to learning).” Australian Directions in Education, MCEETYA
We know that parents’ attitudes to education, either positive or negative, play a huge role in a child’s attitude to education and play a key role in determining if that student will be successful at school. We also know that we are lucky that most of our students come to SCAS with a history of valuing education. We do not often hear : “I thought that school wasn’t for me, I didn’t have that role model who went through school because mum dropped out of school.”
So, our job is to do what we can to ensure that valid, sustainable and deep learning are supported by our structures, strategies and attitudes. This means constantly reviewing what we do and why we do things to ensure that our practices support educational engagement at a high level and students can feel that their education is not only a key to future success but relevant to their needs and aspirations.
That means we will continue to examine ways to:
- Create emotionally and physically safe classrooms
- Create intellectually safe classrooms
- Be acutely aware of when students are paying strong attention or are deeply engaged in their tasks
- Communicate with students why we are doing what we do
- Create a culture of explanation, instead of a culture of the right answer
- Use questioning strategies that make all students think and answer
Not easy, but it is a key to ensuring that the “school is so boring” myth does not take hold in our SCAS educational culture.