Saturday, September 8, 2012

Student Motivation

I guess this topic is what has driven me to make such drastic changes to my classroom more than any other factor. I have been reading a book called Drive by Daniel Pink about what motivates humans to do what we do. He says the industrial age method of producing motivated workers was to give them incentives to pull them to a goal and then if that did not work, give them punishments to push them there. Most of the world is still in this mode of operations and I bet if you took a moment to reflect on your educational career and/or your business career you would find this method at work. He goes on to say that this method does work for a narrow set of parameters, such as repetitive, non-cognitive, menial tasks. This is unfortunately how the educational world of today still operates.  Teachers should be trying to create a student that can think, question, analyze, debate, ... In a recent editorial that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jeffrey Selingo, the publication's editorial director, said ' It's been widely reported that many of the best jobs of tomorrow don't even exist today, so the successful schools of the future will be those that graduate students who have the imagination to figure things out'.  Yet we (teachers) are under increasing pressure to prepare our students for high stakes tests that are still formatted in the old system.  We drill and kill the students to death and squeeze all imagination out of them at an astonishing young age with test after test after test.

I was seeing this in the eyes of my students years ago and did not really get it yet.  I knew something wasn't working the way it should but I could not figure it out.  I still do not have the answer.  All I know is the way I was doing things was not working.  

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