You may have read an article or heard about it in the news that approximately 40% of school students are disengaged at school. If you haven’t you can read the article here
As a former full-time high school teacher and having done casual high school teaching at several schools over the past 8 years, I can say in some classes it is well above 40% who are disengaged.
There are several factors to consider and I will then outline why we have over 90% of our students at InFlow Education engaged in studying. Any student who shows persistent disengagement doesn’t remain enrolled at InFlow Education, to keep our culture strong.
Firstly our education system is not really preparing students for the fast-changing types of jobs they will have to choose from when they leave school.
There should be greater emphasis on having students be taught more applicable subjects and skills in favour of some mandatory subjects that could be made selective.
I would even suggest a period or two each week where students choose whatever they want to learn and submit a report or presentation on what they learned over a term.The current assessment methods, especially in the form of written exams, often put students who could answer questions verbally quite easily at a disadvantage because they may struggle to write their answers in the time allotted.
There are students who struggle to read and might be dyslexic. Written exams don’t allow them to shine, so aural and spoken exams would be better for these students.
Apart from the structure of our education system being outdated, fundamentally it still operates on an outdated form of motivation when it comes to engaging students. In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, he explains how after years of scientific experiments it is obvious that the old form of; “sticks and carrots” motivation (motivation 2.0) doesn’t work anymore.
This refers to getting people, in this case, students, to do as they are asked with the promise of a reward, perhaps a merit card, or punished by detention or a meeting with parents.
What we really want are self-motivated children who are lifelong learners in an area of life they would like to be an expert in.
Often in school, they are forced to take subjects they have zero interest in, which increases disengagement. There are 3 essential elements to self-motivation (motivation 3.0 as Daniel Pink refers to), which is embedded in our culture at InFlow Education, and underpins our 90% plus engagement of our students. The first is autonomy. Nobody enjoys being told what to do or being forced to be anywhere, yet this is the case for almost half of the students who attend schools in Australia.
At InFlow, only students who want tutoring and make the decision themselves after their free trial lesson are enrolled. We don’t enroll students against their will.
It also creates a culture of having students be around other students who want to be there. Nobody wants to be the odd one out, so it is either opt-in or leave which saves the parents money and the young person’s time.
The second part of self-motivation is mastery. Schools focus too much on rankings and comparing students to a set benchmark. At InFlow Education, we measure success by getting the student to improve against his or her own past performances.
When they see how far they have come in 3 months, 6 months, or a year or more, they feel inspired by how far they have come and stay engaged.
The last component of self-motivation is purpose. When a student can see a purpose to doing a subject that fits into the bigger picture for them they will likely accept it, even if they don’t absolutely love it.
Finding what your purpose is or what you are great at, is a simpler process than most people would think.
I guide students on a simple way to get clearer on what they truly want to do for a living. When a child discovers that, we tie in weekly study to achieving that bigger picture and the child stays engaged.
If every child could find out what they wanted to be an expert in and was guided to be an engaged learner on that journey, then not only would we have greater engagement in our schools, they would be a happier place for both students and teachers.
The kind of environment we have created at InFlow Education