Empowerment Comes Before Engagement

Do we want teachers to be empowered or engaged? I would like to work in a school culture in which teachers feel empowered to learn and try new things. This builds leadership capacity and intrapreneurship. Should teachers be engaged? Absolutely, but after they feel empowered. I don’t think this would be different for students.

engaging vs empowering

What is exactly the difference between engaging and empowering our students? Are engaging students and empowering students fundamentally different and equally important? Can you be empowered without being engaged? Is engaging learners a short term goal and empowering students a long term goal? Engaging means getting students excited about OUR content, interests, curricula. When we see engaging students as our ultimate goal, are we somehow suggesting that teachers are the only ones that can determine topics worth exploring? Empowering means giving students the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR passion, interests and future. I know that I have a way easier time being engaged if I feel empowered.


empowerment before engagement

I guess the reason this is rumbling through my head is that we use ‘engaging’ and ’empowering’ interchangeably in many educational situations — but they aren’t as synonymous as most of us thought they were. I think that empowerment naturally preceeds engagement. Students need to be empowered not engaged.

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