These two elements always go together. If we don’t engage students, we have little hope they’ll succeed in our schools, our teams or even our homes. If we don’t know how to pass on values to live by — we can’t expect these kids to do anything but wander when they become adults.
We must engage students with the issues that will prepare them for life after school. We cannot continue to do things the way we have done them before. The future is no longer simply a continuation of the past. So many students, perhaps the majority of them, don’t know how to succeed in life. It’s time we tell them the truth. One college dean asked me recently: “Why don’t students want to grow up?” I think I know one reason. Consider this. The adult world we are preparing them for has never been more complex. The adolescent world has never been more pleasurable. Many see no need to leave their current reality to enter a long, hard adult lifestyle.
This same dean also asked why I felt he should work so hard to creatively connect with students. I told him that these students are going to have to learn to engage with an unglamorous adult world soon. In other words, why use images, conversations, technology, and experiences when they don’t represent the rigor of classic higher education? My response was simple. It’s true we must prepare them for a world that isn’t always fun. But to reach them — we must start where they are. Effective teachers/leaders always begin where the listener lives. I encourage you to re-think these issues:
1. How am I connecting with the young people in my life?
2. Do I need to engage them with images and conversations, and let them talk?
3. Am I preparing them for the real world as I teach, coach or parent them?
4. Am I willing to begin with their world and gently lead them out of adolescence?
I am hopeful we can all answers these questions well.
As I stated yesterday if we are going to engage students, our initiatives must include methods for how students best learn. My research shows me they engage with right brain elements:
a. Images — This generation grew up visual. Images are the language of the 21st century not words.
b. Conversations – Pictures are worth a thousand words; students want to upload their ideas and feelings.
c. Experiences — Following a conversation about an image, students long to experience ideas firsthand.
On June 23rd-24th, our National Leadership Forum will deal with these very issues. Our theme: Develop: Cultivating Growth, Engagement and Success in Students. I’d love to invite you to bring your team and help turn research into results. For more information, please check out: www.NationalLeadershipForum.org.