Principals Pen Wednesday, 14 Feb 2018

Living Faith invests a lot of energy in student engagement. We collect data on student engagement and use this data to further increase student engagement. We value student engagement just as highly as we value student achievement. But why?

The traditional compliance educational model often:

  • motivates through fear;
  • crushes curiosity;
  • sends the message that learning is drudgery; and
  • fails to guide students towards their absolute potential.

An engagement educational model, however:

  • promotes intrinsic motivation;
  • inspires curiosity;
  • stimulates the desire to persevere; and
  • develops within students a view of learning as a pleasurable lifelong enterprise.

The latest in neuroscience research shows a direct correlation between engagement and achievement. Without engagement, achievement potential is hampered. Examples of relevant neuroscience research include:

  • The limbic system assesses everything that enters the brain as either a threat or a reward. When the brain perceives a threat, the sympathetic nervous system is activated to initiate what is often referred to as a ‘fight or flight’ response. Threats are not limited to the physical; they include the psychological and social states also. A reward state comes not only from the physical requirements for survival such as air, food and water, but also from psychological and social factors such as certainty, autonomy and social acceptance. Both threat and reward are primary motivators; by nature we typically avoid threats and approach rewards. Students’ brains must be in the reward state (ie engaged in their environment) for the most effective learning (which includes challenging, stretching and struggling) to take place.
  • 89% of children do not learn by listening to someone speak or by reading texts. Real learning isn’t passive, it’s active. Engaging in authentic activity is key to quality neural activity.

Student engagement should not be confused with entitlement. Engagement and entitlement are two very different concepts. Engagement creates an environment that guides children to appreciate the value resilience, grit and effort play in academic rigor, whereas entitlement places emphasis on incessantly surrendering to the wants of a child.

When we engage students from the onset, we reduce negative classroom behaviours while creating experiences that are action-packed, drive curiosity, and deliver brain states of anticipation and intrigue. Lori Desautels

Expecting a kid to learn only from a textbook is like asking them to look at a travel brochure and calling it a vacation. Ian Jukes

Loving a child doesn't mean giving in to all his whims: to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult. Nadia Boulanger

­And so, student engagement continues to receive significant air time and remains an absolute priority for us at Living Faith. We know that, as we continue to focus on improving student engagement, students will reach their potential through academic achievement.

For those interested in connecting this information – together with previously-shared information pertaining to growth mindset – with learning in the home, I recommend Rebecca Haggerty’s article entitled Highly Motivated Kids have a Greater Advantage in Life than Kids with a High IQ.

- Jane Mueller