A Mind is a Fire to be Kindled

Not a Vessel to be Filled

Welcome to McMEL!

The Maine Center for Meaningful Engaged Learning works to bring quality information to educators on teaching and learning practices that engage learners in meaningful learning, and the school practices that will help all students succeed. This focus is especially critical in the context of school change and helping all students be successful.

There are 4 critical elements that schools working to achieve meaningful, engaged learning focus on:

McMEL takes on the critical step of identifying quality models, examples, resources, and tools to help districts, schools, and educators work on meaningful, engaged learning.



Trying to educate every child has proven to be a challenge. Even early in the twentieth century, there was concern that many students had dropped out physically or mentally. In the 1912 book, All The Children of All The People, Smith points out:

However reluctant one may be to acknowledge the fact, it is none the less certain that the task of trying to educate everybody, which our public schools are engaged in, has proved to be far more difficult than the originators of the idea of such a possibility thought it would be when they set out upon the undertaking. (Smith, 1912, p. v)

Districts, schools, and teachers are challenged daily by the many students who are undermotivated, disengaged, and underachieving.

  • Educators wrestle with trying to reach students who aren’t interested in learning, often trying to find ways to deal with the subsequent discipline issues or with trying to meet the diverse needs of students at various levels of achievement and ability.  Getting students to settle down, or do their work, or reach their potential is an effort.
  • Students are discouraged, are told they must learn material they don't perceive as applicable to their lives, are bored, and are starting to believe that they are failures or stupid. Many are labeled at-risk, learning disabled, underachieving, or simply trouble. 
  • Schools grapple with families who remove their children from public school to attend private and charter schools with more appealing educational programs.

One of the most persistent questions facing school leaders and educators is, "How do I help all children to learn?" What are the instructional practices?  What are the school structures? What do school leaders need to do? 

One answer to these challenges is to create a meaningful and engaging learning environment and educational program. 


McMEL is a project of

The Universtiy of Maine at Farmington