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The Divergence of Engagement

Nicky Wilks, Educator and Co-Founder of Journeymen & One Village, shares his observations on the disconnect between the classroom and the real-world interests of today's students. Why aren't traditional teaching methods engaging students the same way social media and video games do? Join the discussion about how educators can adapt to better meet students where they are.


The Divergence of Engagement

To me, the struggle that is showing up in, in the teams, in the districts, and with the educators that I'm talking to, it sounds like a divergence of engagement and a realization that these young people are not totally disengaged from life. But that the way school is set up, it's not compelling them to engage in learning in the same way that social media is, or their friend and social group. And because that space doesn't feel safe, 'cause it doesn't feel fun, doesn't make them feel alive.

They're choosing to get their, I wanna say quench their thirst for engagement elsewhere. And I think teachers, educators, a lot of them don't feel empowered to create those spaces of engagement. And maybe they don't have the tools to create trusted spaces so their young folks can actually, I wanna say, apply their thirst for life in the building. It's like they're getting that outside.

They might be getting it, you know, when they're on their phone or playing video games with their friends. And I know, 'cause I hear this from a lot of young people too, they feel shamed or kind of put down because they have access to these tools or toys we'll say. But they love them, right? They're like, yeah, that's why I meet my friends. Like that's how I talk to my friends and, you know, my teachers or the adults in my life, they make me feel bad because I play video games or I'm on social media, but there's very little invitation for them to apply those same ways of connecting once they get to school.

It's like, that's not allowed here. We're not using those things and they kind of have to go back to these old ways of engaging or learning that are not effective for them. And so many of them know how to learn. I mean, they can pop on YouTube and figure out how to do something in a very short amount of time. But those same methods, those same tools of connection don't seem to be showing up. And I don't feel like a lot of the educators that I'm working with feel like they are given the support to adopt some of these new ways and actually meet students where they're at.


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