Engagement in plain English

It’s interesting how certain words and phrases seem to catch on. It’s annoying to see them being abused. One of these words is “to engage” (used as a transitive verb) and all its derivatives, such as engagement and disengaged.

Collocation also matters, of course. “Engagement with stakeholders” seems to have become a classic. You can’t tell what that engagement actually means or who the stakeholders are. But the phrase sounds sexy, so it gets used. “Learner engagement” and “employer engagement”, among others, also rank near the top of the most abused yet mysterious (and even meaningless) phrases these days.

What does “to engage” actually mean? Is it “to interest”, “to work with”, “to involve”, “to hire”, “to engross”, “to mesh”? All of the above? Can we not be clear about its meaning in context? Let’s be specific… and let’s stop abusing the term.

Alejandro Armellini
4 May 2010

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