A thought on teaching in a digital world

Schools are getting more wired and electronic. Distractions are everywhere — personal laptop, tablet, smartphone. So what can a teacher do to overcome the distractions and engage students?

You have to sell something better than the distractions, something that is more fulfilling than cheap banality. (cf. one of John Piper’s quotes here) Not more entertainment or distraction in the classroom, but something deeper and more fulfilling, even if it may be challenging initially.

Teacher has to become a salesperson initially to hook students in to take a harder road instead of the easy way out. Then keep inspiring them down this road until they start walking it themselves. So the start of everything — a lesson, a unit, a whole year — is a sales pitch. Then keep delivering on the promise of engaging interest outside of electronics and lazy thinking. Continue to inspire and encourage the students who are now moving down the way on their own volition, and keep selling the promise to the reluctant ones.

The end goal of teaching is for students to become lifelong learners: think for themselves and make their own enquiries of the world. So what are the benefits of being a lifelong learner? When this is a product that initially requires a lot of investment — but will have massive payoff in future. Identify the benefits and advantages. How to pitch it in a way to young minds? Then sell it hard. And keep delivering on the promises.

So what can an educator learn from the advertising and marketing world? Time to look things up…