Are your communities engaged, or involved?
As a leader, you know that ideas matter. And the language we use to convey them matters, too. Defining—or redefining—words to align with our ideas is key in all sectors that aim to communicate with and receive the support of their communities, whether they’re parents, employees, or students.
We’ve noticed a range of definitions and ways of interpreting both engagement and involvement in the education sector. While they may sound similar, there are fundamental differences. To create positive change in your district, you need to ensure your community is engaged, not just involved. Here’s why!
What is engagement?
What about involvement?
What's the difference between engagement and involvement?
So the distinction between engagement and involvement seems to be grounded in the act of reciprocity or mutual benefit.
At ThoughtExchange, we’re not alone in our quest to redefine engagement in organizations. Educator and researcher Debbie Pushor believes in the power of engagement, and she shares her definition here.
She goes on to share:
Engagement, “in comparison to involvement, comes from en, meaning “make,” and gage, meaning “pledge” – to make a pledge, to make a moral commitment . The word engagement is further defined as “contact by fitting together; … the meshing of gears”.
If we look at the education system as an example, the implication is that the person ‘engaged’ is an integral and essential part of a process, brought into the act because of care and commitment. By extension, engagement implies enabling parents to take their place alongside educators in the schooling of their children, fitting together their knowledge of children, teaching and learning, with teachers’ knowledge.
The power of genuine engagement
Genuine community engagement creates possibilities for flattening the school structure, sharing power and authority with educators and parents, and ensuring the agenda is mutually determined and beneficial.
Could the same hold true for other groups? Constituent or community groups, boards, and perhaps in more enlightened workplaces, employee or staff groups? What about customer engagement?
The question we need to consider is this: While we might be able to “involve people” with a survey, a newsletter, or an invitation to an information session, how can we transform this involvement into an authentic engagement where both sides realize the benefit?
Curious? We’ve got solutions. Talk to one of our Education experts to find out how ThoughtExchange, the world’s number one discussion management platform, can help you include all the voices in the room and genuinely engage with your communities.