Before I go any further, I would like for us to examine what motivation is. The root of the word motivate is the Latin term "motus," which means "to move." In essence, a motivation is "what moves you." Can we truly say that modern students are not moved by anything? Hmm...
Perhaps, then, what we are truly experiencing is a lack of direction in motivation. Our pupils are being moved, but they are taking on a velocity that we find contrary to the direction in which we want them to go. They are not ending up at the destination that we have identified as the "best place." With this in mind, we have to take responsibility for our part in this mismatch of interests.
I present to you this equation, which I was motivated (moved) to write when a LinkedIn colleague (Christian Karl) asked me the right question: motivation = exposure + interest + goal + confidence + resources. The rest of this article will assume that this equation is true. I am open to your counterarguments at the end. :)
Let's begin with exposure. Every person has a thing that makes him tick, an interest in some niche area of our world. However, it would be impossible for any one to find his rhythm in a niche that he has never experienced. As a result, it is our job as educators to expose our subjects to a plethora--a large, expansive room full--of topics in order to give each scholar the opportunity to feel his heart string vibrate. It is possible to intentionally plan for this kind of exposure in every classroom and at every level. If an educator, then, has not planned for variety, he or she cannot expect much motivation--movement--in a group of students with varied personalities.
Furthermore, with exposure comes developed and maturing interest. The moment when a learner makes a personal connection with new information is magical. Suddenly there is a kind of kinetic warmth that did not exist before: a new perspective, a new drive, a new curiosity. We do not all find our curiosities in the same places. This is why it is so important that we--the teachers--know that exposure and interest walk hand in hand. If we want pupils to be driven, we must accept that they can only be best driven by their curiosities about a given paradigm. It is no good to scratch the surface of thousands of concepts at warp speed. Warp speed does not allow time for consideration.
|Interest--in both economics and education|
--looks like this (hopefully).
times they are not. Quite honestly, there have been times in teaching where I was in such a rush to "keep moving"--motivated by the breadth of content--that I did not give students opportunities to set or express their goals in relation to subject matter. Goal setting can happen almost instantaneously in response to a simple stimulus. A student may think, "God, I don't want to wind up in that individual's situation" or "This is a place I would like to visit," but he or she will need an outlet in which said goals can be expressed, acknowledged and nurtured without threat. In this kind of open environment where personal goals can be shared, motivation--an individual's willingness to move without being pushed--grows naturally.
Goals require confidence for completion. After all, we are not motivated (moved) to do things that we personally identify as impossible. I, personally, have no interest in walking in outer space. You may say, "Hey, that's possible. What's wrong with you?" But in response, I would say that I am not moved to study aeronautics. I am not moved to be trained in how to use the necessary equipment. I am not moved to go for a ride in a spaceship. As a result, walking in outer space--for me--is quite impossible. I am lacking the "confidere," the full trust in the procedures I would need to endure to go for a space walk. I cannot do it. If, however, I can communicate to a pupil that with certain resources a goal becomes more likely, I can stoke confidence where there is none.
If I can prove that the skill set that I am facilitating--the resource that I am offering--lends itself to a type of flexibility that makes room for the fulfillment of personal goals, I will be more likely to promote motivation--movement--in my listeners, even if they are a captive audience. Sometimes, we will have to demonstrate vested interest in our students' goals by helping them to find additional resources--be they financial, social, emotional, physical or other--in support of their desired ends. The more functional and appropriate the provided resources are, the more motivated (moved) the scholar will be to continue in pursuit of the said goal. So then, confidence and resources walk hand in hand. I cannot expect students to become more confident without the resources needed to operate successfully within a new paradigm.
|What should we be doing with|
our limited time?
teacher? Have you even tried this for yourself?" And, I am prepared to answer that question. I contend that I was not a good teacher until I began to teach in this fashion. I did not know my students' motivators well, and so I spent a lot of time reinventing my methods of classroom management to make them pay attention. Quite frankly, I don't even pay attention in trainings unless I feel motivated, unless I have practical interest in the training topic, unless I can use the information to set a personal goal, unless I will have the resources I need to meet that goal accordingly. (You know you don't either.) As a learner, I expect to be that my position in the world will be respected and incorporated in the training I am required to undergo. Might our students feel the same way?
Don't our students have the right to have their leanings, their drives, their passions discovered and nurtured within the context of our instruction? Isn't that what teaching is about? If not, what are we all doing here?