Motivation Kool-Aid

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Motivation cannot be taught. We are all motivated equally and can truly do whatever it is we set out to do. The issue with this statement is that, even though we are all motivated, what sparks our individual desires is very different and diverse. While I wake up in the morning, motivated and ready to be active, someone else wakes up with the same amount of drive to relax and lay in bed. Motivation is the internal ability we have that guides, aims and directs us to behave and act the way we do. The motivation to learn is what teachers must discover and spark within their students; finding ways to make students want to learn and sustain that behavior. If a teacher can find that drive and push the right buttons, so to speak, the student will respond with a desire and will to learn. Educators with a good base knowledge of how motivation applies to their particular subject will find much more success in their students than someone who simply goes through the motions and regurgitates the required information for a course or subject. There are many different theories of motivation and how the mind works when motivated. These include: behavioral learning theory, humanistic views of motivation, attribution, the expectancy theory, intrinsic and extrinsic learning processes and finally ways to reward performance, effort and improvement as a teacher. Rather than bore you with my interpretation of these theories, I’ll keep it short-assuming you have been motivated to read this far.

Theories are meaningless without the teacher’s ability to effectively reward performance, effort and improvement. To paraphrase Maslow, students cannot reach good esteem levels without a sense of belongingness and comfort. When complimenting students, as a teacher, we have to be specific in how we do it. Students generally know when a compliment is genuine or not. If the student does not feel the compliment emotionally, then more often than not, this will only hinder the student’s  following performance.

Motivation is the drive within us that is controlled mostly by our habits. Change and new ideas are hard to remember because of this. The lack of repetition to form habits needs to be established. Teachers are an essential component in creating the future of our society. The teachers who understand how important motivation is will help build a brighter future for us. Peter F. Drucker once said, “We know nothing about motivation. All we can do is write books about it.” What I think he meant in saying this is that motivation comes from within. It is constantly and continuously happening. Students, in the end, have to be open to change and motivate themselves in order for success in the classroom, which brings to mind an old saying: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.

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