‘Creating Space’ and Engagement

Teachers love direct instruction (I do, we do, you do) because it works most of the time.

Teachers know they need to cover the content. It is important to get everything done

But covering the content and learning are a little at odds with each other

Because the easiest way to cover the content is to just tell students whatever it is you want them to know

Even though we are all told that remembering is the lowest form of knowledge and we aim for students to do more (Blooms taxonomy)

So ideally we think we would like to do more teaching, but in some cases students are doing worksheets and other tasks just to remember facts

But what it doesn’t do is give students space to WANT to learn

It is more likely to devalue learning

The desire for learning

Wouldn’t teaching be a lot easier if students all wanted to learn the curriculum? 

Like they wanted to know about Ancient Egypt, Pythagoras and Persuasive writing?

We could go into class and say ‘Ok students now you get to do some persuasive writing of your own! Only 500 words though!’

And students would go for it. 

But overall we can’t do this because students need to have some structure to learn things they don’t know exist. And they also need to know the right way to do it.

So teachers tend to be quick on the answers when giving a problem like this

The ‘I do’ in I do, we do, you do. Is us basically giving them the answers and it is at the start of the process!

There isn’t much room for input from students, because there isn’t much time for it!

We as teachers love getting straight to the answer. Then students are meant to have fun in completing the task.

This theory is about changing the order of the process a little 

To provide more discovery

Wait, isn’t there already a discovery learning?

Yes, it’s about inquiry.

And there is some crossover from what I can make out, but the main difference is that with what I am talking about you end up where you want to be. Discovery learning can take you and the kids to completely different places.

(You can read some more about that here.)

‘Creating Space’ for learning

What I am talking about is focusing on the space around the learner.

Giving them the space to think or act or do what they need to do…

Think of it like building a fence or a barrier around them with some space for them to do what they want/need to do.

The fence here isn’t restrictive, it actually takes the pressure off them and lets them feel freer 

Room to explore but not endless room to be distracted by, wander off to or be caught up in.

A Practical Example

Have you ever read a book to your own kids who on a particular day/night don’t want to read?

I read with my daughter almost every night. Sometimes she loves to read other times she doesn’t.

If that night she doesn’t want to read, I take the book and start reading.

But sometimes it turns out I am not that good at reading. I read the wrong thing. If i’m reading a book about unicorns I might say ‘umbrella’ when I don’t know a word.

‘The Unicorn chased the umbrella until it was exhausted and gave up.’

I think it’s fun!

But my daughter gets frustrated and will often times take the book from me and start reading.

(Here I am attempting to make her feel like the mature and more knowledgeable one).

Another example

Reverse psychology works on some students as well

‘You didn’t do that’ or ‘I bet you couldn’t do that again’

These types of comments and the facial expressions that go with them 🙂

In Summary (for now)

‘Creating Space’ isn’t supposed to solve everything when it comes to engagement. It’s just a slice of the pie that needs to be put into the algorithm of engaging kids (to put it in today’s speak.)

But I think it does need to be revisited in the future.

There is still more here.

Thanks for reading.