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Defining education

boy microscopeIt really amazes me that in education we use terms without actually defining them. Pedagogy is one such term. I’ve written about this before in Pedagogy – what is this thing? It is difficult to find a clear definition for the term pedagogy and I believe it is technically used incorrectly in a number of institutions.

The term that I am currently most interested in though is Student Engagement. This is a term that is bandied about in most schools and learning institutions and there is a large amount of literature on it. I’m currently reading a lot of that literature as a part of my Masters research thesis. Some literature has attempted to define what student engagement is, or at least what it is in relationship to the research they have done. Most literature however uses the term without attempting to define it and from what I’ve seen, many schools do the same.

Our Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office which audits New Zealand schools is very interested in student engagement, but I would challenge any of the officers that visit schools to explain what they are looking for in terms of engagement and how it can be measured in a ‘snapshot’ visit (oops – that’s slightly political perhaps, which I don’t normally do).

Student engagement is such a broad area and I believe if anyone wants to use that term for whatever purpose they need to define what it means for that situation. Don’t just use the term expecting people (teachers, students – anyone!) to know what you mean, because you are possibly using it in a different way than what they think it might be.

BTW: If anyone has any good literature on student engagement that defines it well, I would love you to share it with me. It might help me progress in my studies.

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