When you look back to your days as a student, were you well behaved? Did you sit still and listen? Did teachers like to have you in their class? If you answered yes to these questions, my next question is of utmost importance: Were you truly an engaged student or were you simply compliant?
Compliance sounds like a dirty word yet, for many years that is what we have truly valued in our classrooms. And why not…it made our job as educators much easier! Students sat in rows, listened (not necessarily intensely) but quietly and did what they were told to do! Furthermore, if there was any misbehaviour, a quick call home to mom or dad and that was eliminated fairly quickly. Whether you want to believe that those were the good old days is irrelevant because that’s not how our classrooms are or should be today!
Our world can ill afford to “produce” another generation of compliant students. The very definition of compliance should strike fear into our hearts and minds. The students we want and truly need in our classrooms are committed. But the committed learner will never be allowed to develop in classrooms that still recognize and reward compliance. Silent classrooms with a five rows of five desks matrix cannot instill the engagement required to move from compliant student to committed learner.
Before we blame the system, let’s be reminded that WE ARE the system! We have control of what happens in the classroom. We may not have sole choice of what we teach, but we control how we teach and as professionals that is our unique body of knowledge. Great pedagogy should always trump mediocre curriculum or any other issue we face!
Great pedagogy in today’s classroom must mimic the real experiences in our students’ lives. Given the digital world our students live in, engagement must include appropriate technology. There is no way to minimize the requirement to engage students with technology as a tool! Even the most engaging traditional teacher cannot compete against the feedback our students are experiencing in their gaming world. It is impossible!
Our students deserve to be engaged in their classrooms and our society needs committed learners. We can no longer settle for compliance in our classrooms. Students should not be satisfied with “stock” answers they can get from Google but instead want to be able to question more. Compliance equals a knowledge receiver while commitment is more equivalent to a knowledge creator. Compliance maintains the status quo while commitment searches for a better way!
As professionals, we too desire to be committed and engaged. There is no better time than the present to be the role models of commitment and engagement to our students in our classrooms. Our students are the future but we can assist them to create it through engaging not compliant classrooms!