Tony Gurr

LEARNer Engagement in a Culture of LEARNacy (Part 03)

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities on 13/09/2012 at 1:35 pm

One of the challenges of running a mini-series on your blog (apart from the fact that they never seem to end…) is you can, if you are not careful, leave a few loose ends

For example, in Part 02 of this “dizi” – I posed this question:

This one touches at the very heart of student engagement debates in our 21st Century world…but I kinda left it hanging there and did not really plan to talk about EdTECH that much in the series.

Fortunately (for me), Bill Ferriter did a guest post on Larry Cuban’s blog recently and drew on Dina Strasser’s wonderful one-liner:


Like most EDUsmart LEARNatics, Bill and Dina both recognise that TEACHers cannot really “engage” students with TECHnology – for LEARNers the TECH is “invisible” and our attempts to make it more “visible” (and thus “motivating”) will probably get us as many giggles as when we told them that we did not have the internet when we were LEARNers! 

As we noted in Part 01LEARNers want choicechallenge and collaboration (to feed their need for responsibilityrespect and real’). 

As Bill puts it: 

What students are really motivated by are opportunities to be social — to interact around challenging concepts in powerful conversations with their peers. They are motivated by issues connected to fairness and justice. They are motivated by the important people in their lives, by the opportunity to wrestle with the big ideas rolling around in their minds, and by the often-troubling changes they see happening in the world around them.


The role of the TECH – is just to “help” them do that, as effectively and efficiently as they canReal engagement and a real culture of LEARNacy means that, as TEACHers, we prioritize the purpose, success (or “mastery”, if you are a fan of Dan Pink) and autonomy – and make sure we build on the curiosity that LEARNers naturally bring to the table.

The starting point is to ask our LEARNers to LEARN us


The second loose end was a question I asked at the very end of Part 01:

Now, I have to admit this was a tough question – but what I was getting at was that to really make student engagement “work” (in a school context) is that the whole school community has to be committed to LEARNacya community of purpose committed to creating a culture of LEARNacy. 

Many TEACHers (and I got a few e-mails to prove it) say that this is their real challenge…that their schools do not give them the opportunities and the time to “work ON” the business… 

 …and, sadly, focus on “working IN” the business – and what is convenient for them!


If TEACHers cannot answer that question in the affirmative, the first thing the school or university needs to do is open up “space” for all staff to ask other questions:

  • Why not? What is stopping us?
  • What needs to change in us, our TEACHing and our school to make this the way we all “do” the business of LEARNing?

Because, you know…

…if we don’t!


The really big loose end is, of course, that I have not really defined what I mean by a Culture of LEARNacy.

That’s easy (gulp!) – when I get round to Part 04!

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