To learn something, you have to focus on it. You have to engage your eyes, your fingers, your body, your mind. You have to get on and do it. Young children engage instinctively, with the right encouragement. They play, explore the world around them, listen intently to stories, socialise with friends. Children want to learn. Learning is in their job description. We have to teach children good habits too, so we model, coax and say ‘because you must’. As we grow, some learning is hard won. Children have to struggle, and persist, to achieve it. Here the intrinsically motivated are good to go, they have internal marshmallows* already. They will see the marshmallows in whatever you ask them to do. But some children are not so fortunate. ‘Gimme Marshmallows’ they growl. So you have to show them that there are marshmallows out there, and you can work together to get them. Sometimes they will have to wait for two marshmallows later, not grab one straight away. Learning is worth the fight. Therefore, I conclude in a completely unscientific way, that Engagement = Marshmallows.

*Please note this is a metaphor. This blog has a healthy eating policy.

This entry was posted in Behaviour, Children, Engagement, Motivation. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Marshmallows

  1. Tim Taylor says:

    Earlier this week I worked with a class of Year 2 children. One, a boy, complained of being tired. He flopped around and made disapproving grunts when I talked about what we were going to do during the day.

    I learnt later (from the HT) that his home life is in turmoil.

    Whatever, it was my job, to make the curriculum we were exploring that day as engaging to him (and his more biddable classmates) as possible. I see this as a duty. He was in no fit state to have a ‘growth’ mindset, to take responsibility for his own engagement. He was half asleep and (I would imagine) preoccupied with his own maelstrom of unhappy thoughts and emotions.

    As teachers we can not duck this responsibility or argue it away in philosophical discussions. It is our jobs to do whatever we can to make the curriculum interesting and to try and engage our students in the best ways we can.

    Nothing less.


  2. Thomas E says:

    As a high profile anti-phonics advocate I assume the interesting curriculum would not include any teaching of phonics
    Posted by Thomas


  3. Thomas E says:

    I meant that Sue Cowley is the anti-phonics advocate not the guy Tim Taylor


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