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Posts Tagged ‘empower

This tweet triggered a thought, i.e., the importance of intrinsic motivation and empowerment.

The tweet summarised the research on what motivated workers to contribute to free or open source software. It concluded that intrinsic motivation was the “strongest and most pervasive” driver.

We might apply this finding in teaching and learning. To bring intrinsic motivation to the surface, we cannot just engage learners, we must empower them.

It might even be harmful to rely on engagement. This puts all the effort in the teacher’s court and lets the student say “engage me otherwise I do not pay attention and learn”.

If we are to nurture lifelong learners, we need to promote long-term skills and attitudes, e.g., reflection methods, independent thought, lateral reading, informed skepticism. These change the game from one of teaching to that of learning.

Teaching and learning might look the same to a layperson, but an educator should know the differences. It is learning that matters and effective teaching is one way to ensure that happens. The other ways that do not get as much air time are intrinsic motivation and empowerment.

Video source

Video source

Video source

They might be few and far between, but these teens are not waiting for permission to enact change.

If we wonder why kids seem to be passive or indifferent, we only have ourselves to blame for holding them back instead of enabling and empowering them.

A basic prerequisite of learning is attention. If the attention of students is not on an activity or an experience, they are unlikely to learn from it.

If they are not dedicating one or more sense-gathering processes, there is nothing to post-process. Put plainly, if students are not watching a video closely or listening carefully to instructions, they are unlikely to benefit from a learning activity.

Now that scenario presumes a teacher-led classroom. This is a fair assumption to make as most classrooms are designed for teaching. If they were designed for learning, students might be able to conduct independent work or use other resources to learn.

So back to attention.

When you want students to pay attention, you try your best to engage them. But if you want students to give attention, you need to empower them. Therein lies a fundamental difference between teaching that is largely delivery-oriented and facilitating from a meddler-in-the-middle.

As I was grading the work of future instructors, this saying came up a few times: A picture paints a thousand words.

What they meant: Go beyond text and provide richer media like photos or videos because these can say much more.

I concur, but I also commented: There are also a thousand different messages and interpretations of the same image.

If you take only a teacher’s perspective, you see the need to engage with media that attract and hold the attention of students. The rationale might be: I cannot say so much in so little time, so I want to let the medium do it for me.

I use the learner’s point of view. What would a learner think or say? How many variants are there from one expected answer? Which of the interpretations are creative, critical, both creative and critical, superficial, non-sensical, etc.?

I use this CC-licensed image in various ways. One is to illustrate the importance of communication during systemic or organisational change.

The image never fails to get a variety of responses. There are often as many different interpretations as there are people in the room. Some focus on individuals, others on two or all three. Yet others comment on the expressions, orientation, gender, or even the lack of colour in the photo.

An image can paint a thousand words. But whose words do they belong to? Only the teacher who seeks to engage or also the students who are empowered?


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