It???s telling to note that engagement is not something that only we, in organisations, battle with. It would appear, if we were to concentrate merely on the results shown in the US, that student engagement with school and learning is suffering as well.
As the 2012 Gallup Student Poll indicates, in a survey of nearly 500,000 students in grades five through twelve, from more than 1700 public schools in 37 states across the US, nearly eight in ten elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged in school. By middle school, that drops to six in ten and by high school, that drops further to four in ten. What does this mean? It means that for each year a student progresses in school, when they should be more engaged, they are getting less engaged. Is it any wonder then, that this is a fight that we battle with at the workplace?
There are many things we are doing and not doing in our educational system which are affecting the students??? engagement levels. We embrace a system that is failing because we???ve yet to fix what???s broken and we choose to evaluate in a way that does not allow us to see the promise unfold in our children. It is about the quickest route forward, it is about standardisation and it is about knowledge rather than wisdom. In essence, we are not helping students to become more engaged. What we are doing is helping them in the road towards disengagement.
And as they move further and further down this journey, the disengagement and disenchantment only grows. We worry about our economy, the brain drain, the talent shortages we face in our industry and our nation and how the competition is taking our best people away. But securing our country???s future, cannot rely purely on the strategies we put in place, at the organisational level. We need to deal with this much earlier and it???s a collective responsibility.
It is hard work, it wont be done quickly, it may not show results immediately and surely, there???s bound to be failure and missteps along the way. But we need to address this in a holistic way. So that all of us benefit in the end. There are many ways in which we can start and I can only hazard a guess that open dialogue is as good a method as any other to begin. We can view the problem as bigger than what we are capable of handling alone or we can take measures ourselves. The point is that we all should do something about it if we expect change to take place. And if we decide that we shall not do anything about it, will it then not mean that things will go on as they do?
Read more about The School Cliff : Student Engagement Drops with Each School Year in the Gallup Blog post of 7 January 2013.