In their report, Mitchell Institute explores definitive links between student disengagement and problematic societal issues such as unemployment, crime, poor health and public welfare dependency. The study looks at students who encounter unaddressed educational challenges and leave the school system prematurely.
Many go on to face similar trials — without a practiced skill set for success — in their adult life. The extent to which these individuals progressively disconnect from the possibility of a healthy, contributive life is alarming.
Over 82% of 25-44 year olds who did not graduate from school as teenagers remain absent from further study and training. About 18% of these adults disengage from education and work their entire adult lives.
Mitchell Institute examines the net present value for fiscal and social costs of this group. Those who leave school early and do not return cost an estimated $315 million in taxes per year while their social expense equals $580 million. Over the course of a lifetime, these figures reach into the billions.
A Startling Disparity
The 2016 employment levels show significant disparity between those who graduated and those who did not. The earlier one leaves school, the less likely they are to acquire and maintain employment. Adults with no eligibility are over twice as likely to receive unemployment supplemental income than their degree-holding counterparts.
Today’s prisons are overwhelmingly filled with young adults who have attained a low level of education. More than fifteen percent are reported to have quit school before the 9th grade. Acute disease such as stroke, diabetes, hypertension and emphysema remain substantially over-represented in those with lower education, resulting in higher mortality rates.
Clearly, students who do not complete their education are in danger of becoming a disheartening statistic. Theories abound as to what, exactly, school failure can be attributed to. But, if you’re a teacher, you do not view this issue in a reactive manner. You proactively seek reform. You focus on discovering how disengaged students can become viable learners, and you examine innovative classroom tools through which this can be accomplished.
Inspiring Student Ownership of Learning
Students today are generally quite technically-oriented. Many love their devices and spend an inordinate amount of time in cyberspace. Why not capitalize on this enthusiasm in the classroom? How can technology enhance and inspire current teaching practice and engage students to take more ownership of their learning? Here are some ideas:
1. Engage Diverse Learners
Tech can speak in an engaging manner to students with diverse learning styles. A familiar and well-versed realm, technology can be used to help teacher surpass the traditional passive instruction model and borrow from today’s interactive world. Because active participation can be required with some tech-based activities, more active student engagement can be an outcome.
There are so many programs and applications available for use in the K-12 arena. Most are user-friendly and many are free.
2. Inspire Creativity
When students create content demonstrate their learning, they can become inspired to own their learning. Tech tools for creative development abound. Consider the following possibilities:
- Cyber Cartoons and Comic Strips: Here are Dozens of Ways to Use Comics and Cartoons in the Classroom and 20 Free Tools for Making Comics and Cartoons for Teaching and Learning
- Virtual Mind-Mapping and Brain-Storming: Learn more about mind mapping here, and try one of these free online interactive white boards for braining storming.
- Digital Storytelling: In this article we shared take aways from an inspiring Keynote focused on digital storytelling, by the wonderful Kathy Schrock, and dozens of resources she has shared on line.
- Student Blogging: Explore the many ways blogging is being used by students in this post.
- Student Created Presentations: Check out a number of different presentation tools and how students used them to create presentations about 21st century skills in this post.
3. Interact Collaboratively
A few years back, one the Gates Foundation reports, “Teachers Know Best: What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools“, indicated that teachers want tools “supporting student collaboration and providing interactive experiences”. Technology can surely facilitate active collaboration in the classroom. When students work together and interact, there is a natural tendency for them to own that interaction, bringing them a step closer to owning their learning. Tech fluent students can even step in and facilitating interaction on all levels. Here are 20 Fun Free Tools for Interactive Classroom Collaboration.
Technology, in increasing manner and form, places engaging interactive tools directly into the hands of teachers and students alike. With a shared end goal of maximizing full potential, often the line between participants blurs such that the teacher resembles student and vice versa.