Why do so many students seem apathetic? Are we motivating them?

Do you care?

Are you motivated?

Do you always strive to do your best, even if you don’t like the task?

Do you think you can learn from every experience?

Do you think apathy is contagious? If your friend doesn’t care, does it make you not care?

Would you go to school even if you didn’t have to? Do you see the value in learning?  Self improvement?  Gaining Knowledge?

There are many ways to describe me, but apathetic isn’t one of them. I take things very personally and really mean from deep in my heart to solve problems. I can’t say every class I ever attended fascinated me, but I always tried. I really do think most things are interesting if presented well. Okay, there’s the truth. Presented well…

I recently recounted some of my high school class experiences while talking with my son about his recent school year.  My son just completed the ninth grade, so he has some time. My point was to motivate and for my son to learn that you always do your best. Learning never ends. You may not love every teacher or every subject, but it is a part of getting an education, a part of life. I recounted my high school calculus class. It only had a handful of kids, and I remember each one of them. The teacher was pretty much the most boring person on the earth. He resembled a robot and he sounded like one as he read from the book. I am human, okay. So, I used to talk and joke. I remember distinctly one day when the robot actually moved and stood over my desk and said, “Miss Catchen, differentiate.” So does that say it all?  Anyway, I used to do what I felt like and then when it came time for a test, (they were open book-the one he read from, and WE COULD WRITE IN!), I invited over a very deluxe nerd/math person from my class who explained everything to me in a short time with love and interest.* It really isn’t right, but I did well in the class. That teacher, however, was not my teacher and he never motivated me in any way.  And if you can believe this, the same teacher taught physics, one of the most interesting experiential subjects. He made me hate it and that is one of the few regrets I have. That was just not fair. So, even though I said I have passion about pursuits, I do know what it is like to not engage. It is not my usual practice, but I have been there and done that.

Look familiar?

I do see that students seem afraid to commit. They seem to back off from expressing their passion or interest. Are the teachers so boring?  Have we not found a way to connect? I believe that if a teacher has a love of their subject and content knowledge, it will communicate. Is it working?  Why do kids feel apathetic? Is it just impossible for a human to compete with the speed and brilliance of You Tube? Can it be the stress of their home life or the prospects of the future? Is it just not COOL?

I have to say passion is incredibly cool. I wouldn’t trade those feelings for anything. If I can ignite the fire in students to learn, yes, I would pretty much try anything (almost anything). The world is such an incredible place and there is so much work to do, so much to discover. It makes me want to jump out of my seat!

Are you motivated yet?

*If Google has led you to this post my friend, please take no offense. All of my thoughts about you are good ones.

Categories: 21st Century Education, Education reform, extrinsic reward, Innovation, intrinsic reward, motivation, Uncategorized

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