I admit it. I'm one of those teachers who doesn't believe that a teacher's purpose in the classroom is to entertain. And when I look around the edusphere, I get the impression that most teachers there feel the same way.
What is the difference, if any, in an engaging classroom?
Is it that the term entertainment implies more work on the part of the teacher and less effort on the part of students? Does it conjure up images of teachers singing and dancing on the desktops or throwing candy and homework passes from a parade float? When you think of an entertaining classroom, does that mean that very little learning is going on? Is that why we teachers are so adamant that we are not (and never will be) entertainers?
I don't think we can get away from being performers, at least.
Even if it is only semantics, teachers are much more comfortable picturing themselves as orchestrating an engaging environment. In my own mind, I see the difference being that in this kind of classroom, students make the choice to take advantage of the learning offered to them...while entertaining appears to be just a glorified form of babysitting: learning is very much optional.
As I look around my school, I see a lot of classrooms which aren't (in my opinion) very engaging...and yet, I can't claim that there isn't any learning occurring. Why should other teachers worry so much about creating an engaging environment then? Do we care more about the quality of learning and the number of students we reach? Is our philosophy about the classroom so different that we can't picture working with kids any other way---why we can't be entertainers in the way those others may see themselves?