The unexpected key to student engagement? Dignity.

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  • Respect and dignity are sometimes conflated, but Cultures of Dignity founder Rosalind Wiseman argues that they are very different.
  • Dignity, according to Wiseman, is the essential and inextricable worth of a person. Respect is the admiration for someone’s actions, which often involves how they treat others. The rub comes when people in positions of authority and respect (for example, our elders) behave in ways undeserving of that admiration but are seemingly above reprimanding.
  • “This is actually one of the biggest problems for young people in education,” Wiseman says, adding that when that loss of respect and dignity hits home for students, they tend to disengage from learning. “If I could change something about education, it would be to have dignity be a bedrock of education and that everyone—the teachers, the parents, the students, the staff, everyone, the administrators—has to be treated with dignity.”

This video is part of Z 17 Collective‘s Future of Learning series, which asks education thought leaders what learning can and should look like in the midst and wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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