Have you, as a parent, ever struggled to get your child to school? I know that when I was in third grade my mother had to occasionally pry my hands off the iron hand rail on our front porch and compel me to the bus stop in front of our acreage to get me to school. Years later, I remember the angst my daughter exhibited towards school when she was dealing with bullying within her immediate peer group.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that as our basic needs like food and shelter are met, humans tend toward pursuit and fulfillment of higher order needs like intellectual development. If we apply Maslow’s psycho-social theory to basic education we should see a pattern whereby students become more engaged with schooling with each passing grade as their learning becomes more and more informative and compelling. Unfortunately, decades of research on student alienation and more recent research on student engagement observes that many students tend to become less engaged with school with each successive grade leading far too many students to drop out of school before graduation and other students who learn to minimally “do school” in order to graduate. In 2015 the Alberta three-year high school completion rate was 76.5% according to Alberta Education. As a society we should be able to do better than this.
ABCtech is interested in how students can be more engaged with their schooling as a support for their entry to the work force and for a more diversified, entrepreneurial and thriving Alberta economy. In recent years there has been a shift in research on how schools can be more effective and focused on student needs. For example, the California Office to Reform Education now includes measures of school climate in their school accountability systems FOR MORE In Alberta, several school jurisdictions are focusing on measuring individual student engagement with school as a means to identify strategies for supporting enhanced student connectedness to school and academic success.
Basic education, however, does not exist in a vacuum, and this short article is a call for parents and organizations with vested interests in educational quality to ask how the broader society can become more connected with schools to support the emerging research on student engagement. FOR MORE or Contact HERE
ENGAGING YOUTH is the focus of our project with the Centre for Global Education. The two month project is involving 3,000 students in teams at seven schools across the province. Their challenge is to study the forces and sources of change confronting the province and to design the future Alberta.
About Alberta Council of Technologies Society (ABCtech)
ABCtech seeks to provide a point of contact and communication for Alberta’s technology leaders and entrepreneurs. Developing alliances for emerging technology industries.