George Lucas Educational Foundation

Student Motivation

Student Motivation

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I work in a school that has a very low-income population. Many of my students' parents are too busy working to provide for their children to be involved in their child's education. Other parents did not graduate from high school, or even middle school, and do not place a lot of value in education. Many of my students are a year or two (or more) behind in school and are falling further and further behind every day because they lack motivation and a good work ethic. Does anyone have any good strategies or tips to help me motivate my students and help them realize how important education is to their future?

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shanebravo's picture
In the world the parent-child relationship is one of the longest lasting so

Yes, the motivation is very important for kid's development. In childhood the kids mind are clean so motivates kids new way of life, give good suggestion around the world, gives new technology information, the parents and teacher are motivates to kids for study, new experiments related to science or earth etc and It also teaches them a valuable lesson which they can utilize in the real world.

Things to do with Kids

Muhammad Asif's picture
Muhammad Asif
Secondary and Higher Secondary teacher from Dinga,Pakistan

Students can be motivated if they are clear about their goals. here are two problems, first kids are not motivated, second they are not aware of importance of education. resolve second first,
if end will be clear, start will be easier and smooth, yet i am not aware of whole environment so help is limiting.
if you want to discuss more, i would like it if one by one student is discused.

zep's picture
Education Specialist

Step back & ask yourself, are your students not motivated, or are they not motivated to learn what you deem significant? The bottom line, let your students interests & dreams drive your curriculum and all lessons. At a school I am currently researching (Second Foundation School) I've seen English & Critical Thinking learned through a "Tarot Class". Does anyone motivate a child to walk? To talk? This should be a clue that all humans are born motivated to learn; thus my colleague John Lofflin refers to us as "homo curaous". Really this question has less to do w/ you than w/ a system that assumes they know what's best for kids. "Everywhere the hidden curriculum of schooling initiates the citizen to the myth that bureaucracies guided
by scientific knowledge are efficient and benevolent." (Ivan Illich) What are your students really "behind" other than an artificial bar that pretends that all kids should reach the same levels at the same rate, which we all know is an absurdity. Talk to your students & enjoy learning together :)

zep's picture
Education Specialist

Consider asking why these students are taking a course in which they are disinterested? I wonder what these students would say in response to the question, "what would you like to learn"? Better yet would be for your school to have a safe place where students not interested in what school is selling today could operate without disturbing those who want to learn oceanography, this is the practicum of Free Schools which find their students commonly learning in 6 months what it takes us in conventional settings 6 years to teach.

Laron's picture

I think that zep makes a few good points. First, I believe that all students are curious about the world around them. Often in the upper grades that curiosity lies dormant. It needs to be reawakened, and to a large degree that is our job as secondary educators.
Second, the way this is done (gaining inner motivation from students rather than just completing assignments because the teacher tells them to) is infinitely variable. But the common thread appears to be relationship, teachers relating to their students. And how can this be done if there's no conversation? No talking back and forth? Even if the conversation is off topic. That "off topic" may lead to key insight into how you can make that subject much more relevant to your students thus motivating them at least somewhat.

And if students are motivated, we all know that a lot more gets done much faster . So, that "lost time" for off topic banter isn't really lost after all. Additionally, I think all of us are much more willing to listen and respect the wishes of someone who will listen to us and respect us and our thoughts and opinions.

Oceanography seems like a fairly easy subject to get ideas for service learning, esp. in Alaska. Does anybody have any ideas about community service learning projects related to math? And how do you think it would be best to incorporate the academics with the action?

Jessica's picture
Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

Motivation plays a very vital role in a student life.It helps an individual in arousing an interest towards their desired goals and is governed by certain behavior.Students can be motivated by allowing them to enter into any classroom conversation, by encouraging them to perform well, by allowing them to participate in some extra curricular activities as this will help them in building up their confidence level and boosting up their morale and many such.

Thank you once again....:)

LydiaJacobs1's picture
teacher/tutor from South Florida

Having taught fifth grade at a Title 1 school, I can completely relate to your issue. Although I have always preferred a teacher-centered as opposed to a student-centered classroom (I'm old school, I know.), I found that giving the students choices helped a lot. For example, I used learning contracts for Reading. I included four categories (comprehension, vocab, spelling, and writing). Within each category, I had one or two required activities and three or four optional activities. This allowed the students to take ownership of their learning and they got excited about coming to class.

Santosh Kumar's picture

You could try case studies wherein very low income families have been able to make success of children . We have several examples in the Indian context , but perhaps not be relevant to you. Do drop in a line if you are looking at Indian Case studies.
You could also invite one such successful person to come and share his/her experience , which can relate to you group. for eg its difficult to explain Hunger unless one has gone through it . Regards

zep's picture
Education Specialist

So long as your students are human they are motivated to learn, "homo curaous", but perhaps not what you or the system deems important. Reflect on whether or not your kids are truly "behind" or are they simply unique individuals who shouldnt be measured by an arbitrary number or biased test. My advice is simple, care for our children and respect them for the wonderful people they are, cherish your time to watch their growth and most importantly ask them what their dreams are. From that conversation you can begin to facilitate their learning what is important to them. Want longitudinal evidence? See, "The Pursuit of Happiness"; " What becomes of students who attended Sudbury Valley as they pursue their lives as adults? This book explores the lives of former students who spent their formative years at the school. It examines in depth their values, their character, and their careers, drawing extensively on their own words. " Good luck!

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