Due to the nature of social media, we sometimes see news stories float around for a couple years. Certain articles are shared over and over again, and unfortunately, we have to check their validity all the time. This article from The Miami Herald surfaced for me not too long ago, and it helped to put a finger on a constant problem that teachers have been discussing lately. I am not exaggerating when I say that student motivation is exponentially worse in the last two years. They might come home and say, “School is boring” or a particular class is boring, but that is a perspective that anyone can change for themselves. We always have a few students in every class who give minimal effort. They may have various factors that cause that, but sometimes, they just want to do the minimum to “survive” the assignment or activity, even the easy homework assignments. However, lately, that percentage feels more like 25%. To put it another way, 25% of my students now give the minimum just to finish––lacking curiosity, creativity, or even learning. They try to fill in blanks and feel like they are entitled to positive points. Then, they sometimes have the courage to ask, “Why didn’t I get full credit?” Points and grades and parents and teachers (and sometimes money or rewards) are all extrinsic motivators, so how can we pull back on that and leave behind a successful child? It’s an interesting puzzle that is different for every person. Give the article a read and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments here.
Self-motivation should be the new educational buzzword — every bit as prevalent and powerful as any we’ve seen shape our classrooms in the last few decades.