Are we entertainers or educators?I feel that we are being asked to entertain students. The actual content of the lesson is subsidary to the main theme, which, in my experience, seems to be...
I feel that we are being asked to entertain students. The actual content of the lesson is subsidary to the main theme, which, in my experience, seems to be entertaining them! Engage them? Yes, but entertain? What do other peiople think?
This will be a good discussion post. I will fire off the first volley in suggesting that there no one would ever suggest that content be undermined for entertainment. In the end, I think that there is too much at risk for such a suggestion. For example, administrators who live and perish with the results of high stakes, standardized assessment would never suggest that entertainment should take the place of education. It does not serve their interests, and some of them are so driven by making sure that the material on "the test" is covered that some entertainment might be needed to prevent students from becoming a bundle of neuroses. I do think that there is some level of validity in what is being said here, but I think that there is a way to model one's approach where kids are learning, and doing so in an environment that might allow kids to enjoy what they are learning. I think that the ends of strong and effective teaching are ones in which students fully grasp what is being taught to them in a setting where they feel comfortable with how the material is being driven to them and how they absorb it. I think that students respond positively to this. The idea of "entertainment" as a jester or some type of gimmick might be what kids would like in the short term, but like all novelty it wears off. Students begin to understand that if there is no real substance to what is being done, it is a waste of time. In this, there is an understanding that if teachers wish to reach students, the fundamental premise of education must be present and while there can be an entertaining angle to it, this cannot be the sole premise of what is being done in the classroom setting.
I think in many ways the higher-ups have very unrealsitics expectations of the way lessons are supposed to be presented. The higher ups are so removed from the classroom in many cases, they don't understand what creating an "engaging" lesson really involves and what engaged students really look like. They also don't realize that student discussions and activities won't be a part of the lesson every second. Each lesson may have some down time or boring components and students need to learn to deal with it just as we had to. Not every single second of every single lesson will be exciting, engaging, or entertaining. In order to get to the more exciting components you sometimes have to build a foundation of knowledge which in some cases may be a little dry and standard.
I'm surprised that this did not create more discussion. People love to argue about this! I would say that we need to make our lessons engaging. In other words, we are not doing our job if all we do is pass out worksheets or stand in front of the room lecturing and droning on and on. On the other hand, this does not mean we need to put on a dog and pony show every day. Kids need to bring some of their own motivation too.