The best teachers know how to solicit engagement from students. It's not the dumb obvious way. Here's a few tricks which I lifted from an article by Mineralla on Medium. Thanks!:
When I showed a quiet kid a picture of an elephant and asked “what is this?” they got bored, moved on, cried, anything but answer my question. But if I said, “this is a giraffe” they would all stand up and scream “no, that’s an elephant!” — and suddenly they’re all engaged.
By being ignorant about a topic they are knowledgeable in, it gives them some authority in the conversation and that builds up their confidence.
It works surprisingly well on adults too.
If I ask a stubborn adult, “tell me about your Engineering job” they will typically respond with, “I design systems”. And then I have to ask an endless stream of follow-up questions with one-sentence answers — which no one likes doing.
Now, if I say something inaccurate along the lines of, “so, you’re an engineer. That means you build engines, right?” They can’t correct my ignorance fast enough. They’ll go into detail explaining what an engineer is, what it isn’t, and what kind of engineers there are. All I have to do is chime in with “are you sure?” every few minutes and they’re talking up a storm for the rest of the conversation.
I'm thinking about this as we work on our elementary student-facing curriculum for science and social studies. Point: bore the kids by being a predictable authority, it might not work. Engage them with clever questions that give them some opportunity to show what they think and what they know, we might get them engaged!!!
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