If your goal as an educator is to engage your learners, then authentic teaching is what you want to do. It works. Why? Because your learners get to explore what interests them, within the constructs of your objectives and goals. I’ve used the analogy before, they are in the driver’s seat, but you are navigating. Or maybe you are in the driver’s seat, but they are navigating. I think it goes back and forth actually. But the bottom line is that they are exploring topics of interest to them, while you are meeting your own objectives and goals.
The photo above is from the Martian Colony Project that I was very involved with. These fifth-graders came in from recess to work on the colony board. The board was a great vehicle to teach many math skills – perimeter, area, scale, map grids… But the students were also reading (research about Mars and everything else they wanted to incorporate into the colony), writing (writing about their colony plans), working with science, social studies…
And they were able to easily explore their own interests within the colony. The colony had sports teams, a spa, snack bars, health clinics…you name it and the colony had it.
So, substitute a project designing a new office building, a sports complex, a university, an airport…the authentic list is endless.