It is 3:10 on a Friday (well, it was when I started drafting this post). The coffee buzz is gone. I’m starving, I’m squirrely, and I am most certainly not engaged.
I’m not whooping and hollering and raising my hand. I’m not running around playing four corners with a big ole smile on my face. I’m not curiously seeking answers to well-posed questions.
My boss is not in charge of keeping me entertained. It is not his responsibility to make sure that every hour of every workday we’re all enthralled and actively participating in inquiry. It is absolutely not his job to make sure that–even now, when I have 17 minutes left of work on a Friday–Evyan is ENGAGED.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my job. I am genuinely happy to do what I do (just about) every day. I have all of the tools I need–and more–have a glorious amount of autonomy and the support to make meaningful things happen. I work for a school district that’s just big enough to hold weight and just small enough where it’s kinda like Cheers.
But, unless you’re–say–Kim Kardashian and you get to go shopping on an unlimited budget for a living, there are plenty of times when work isn’t engaging. So why, then, are we putting so much emphasis on engagement in the classroom? If the aim is to prepare kids to be “college and career ready,” shouldn’t we teach them–at least part of the time–how to power through stuff that (generally) isn’t really all that fun or interesting? Are we doing society a great disservice by discouraging traditionally un-engaging things like old-school lecturing and note-taking? Will our kids be able to sit quietly at two-hour meeting without falling asleep or screaming obscenities because they’re bored and don’t know how to handle it?
I’m not arguing that we should purposely torture students in order for them to be stand-up, well-behaved citizens. Well, not entirely. I’m arguing that we seem to be leaning towards a world in which teachers are expected to provide students with a learning environment that is bell-to-bell active and in which students should always be happy participants. It’s just not realistic, and–I’d say–it probably isn’t a good idea.
This, my first post, may make me one of the most unpopular people on the internet–especially if Charlotte Danielson reads this (which–I mean–I’m sure she’ll do–right?!). I encourage you to argue with me. And I look forward to arguing back.