12 Blogposts About Engagement

March 18, 2016

According to this post, it was recently claimed on Twitter that “neo-trads” ignore the issue of engagement. I can’t claim to know who is or is not a “neo-trad”, but there have been plenty of blogposts about engagement written from a broadly traditionalist perspective (although I make that as a claim about the posts rather than individual authors). Here are 12 of them:

  1. Weasel Words #1: Engage by me, from February 2012
  2. Must lessons be entertaining to be engaging? by @Bigkid4 from January 2014
  3. On engagement (again) by @Bigkid4 from February 2014
  4. Engagement – is it a matter of definition? by @ManYanaEd from February 2014
  5. “The students were engaged” – a meaningless phrase by @mfordhamhistory from October 2014
  6. Engagement. Teach children how to engage. by @ManYanaEd from November 2014
  7. Engagement – too many meanings! by @ManYanaEd from November 2014
  8. Engagement: Just because they’re busy, doesn’t mean they’re learning anything. by @C_Hendrick from March 2015
  9. Does engagement actually matter? by @LearningSpy from March 2015
  10. Dipsticks: It all depends on what you mean by ‘engagement’ by @LearningSpy from April 2015
  11. Who is responsible for engagement in learning? by @ManYanaEd from August 2015
  12. As mentioned earlier: “Engagement” is not a useful concept by @greg_ashman from a few days ago.

If one were to plough through all these, one would find a lot of similar points. In particular:

  • The word “engagement” is not used consistently. For example, it can be used to mean being occupied, interested or entertained. Definitions often change mid-conversation. More precision is needed to discuss what mental states and attitudes are most conducive to learning.
  • General statements about what does or does not engage (by any definition) have a habit of not being true for all students, or all classes, making it hard to justify any type of pedagogy on the basis of engagement, even if, for some definition of “engagement” there were grounds to adopt it as an aim.

I’m happy to conclude that the issue of engagement is not some kind of blind spot for traditionalists. Please let me know if I’ve missed any posts or any important arguments.



  1. Hello Andrew – since you’re asking – I did do a bumper ‘triple post’ on ‘Beyond the Cult of Engagement’ in Feb last year, which you were kind enough to Echo Chamber, and which took a decidedly ‘traditionalist’ perspective:

  2. Reblogged this on Michael Oyebode BSc (Hons) PGCE MSET (@MOyebodeTeacher) Professional Teaching & Learning Blog and commented:
    Classroom engagement is key to fostering a product environment for the students. This blog article that I discovered covers classroom engagement with views from a variety of teaching practitioners.

  3. I think it’s the multiple definitions that make ‘engagement’ tricky. I also wonder whether people sometimes use it as a synonym for busy/superficially doing stuff (eg. Don’t do teacher talk because students will be passive and not engaged). I also blogged on this idea a while back https://jenjaynewilson.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/reclaiming-ks3-engagement/

  4. I wrote this which is really about engagement:

  5. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  6. […] want to be judged on that basis? I’ve written before about the misuse of engagement (as have many other bloggers) and inspiration. These terms have been used to condemn teachers for not being entertaining […]

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