Maybe it's because I'm a nerd, but when I was in school, we were all motivated by something inside us to do well, and the generally held opinion of those who didn't do well was that they wouldn't amount to much. If I didn't understand something I read, I read it again.. and again until I thought I did understand it, and if I still couldn't figure it out, I'd know exactly what it was I DIDN'T know so I could ask someone.

As a teacher now, I face the following conversation:

student: I don't get it.
me: What don't you get?
student: Any of it.
me: Okay, it's subject-verb agreement. Do you not understand the agreement part?
student: I just don't get it.
me: Do you know what a subject and a verb are?
student: yeah.
me: OK, so you don't understand what makes them agree or not?
student: I just don't get it. What's the answer to number two?
me: Well, what's the subject of that sentence?
student (whiny) I don't know! I just told you I don't get it!

The above conversation was with a high school student.

I'm wondering about students today and what motivates them. I was motivated by a desire to know what was going on and how to do things correctly - knowledge for its own sake - and I know some kids are motivated by grades and some are motivated by the simple desire to escape school (though they're nuts because school is awesome). But I have more and more kids every year who don't seem to be motivated by anything, and they don't want to even TRY to understand anything. They just want to be given an answer so they can go on with their lives - as if I've gotten in their way by trying to tech them something.

Students who are remotely motivated still don't know how to break down their confusion to tell me what they don't understand.

I can't help but be completely confused and enraged by kids who do not care to know anything. Why on earth would you content yourself to being stupid? Why on earth would you not want to be aware of things?

Mostly I want to know how to reach those kids to make them want to know stuff... what's the key? Does anyone know?

Views: 17

Tags: education, intelligence, learning, motivation, opinion, school, teachers


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Comment by Jamification on May 17, 2010 at 5:00pm
Well back in my school days, I was the ultimate nerdy type, but even then some things just didnt interest me.. Anyway I ended up being pushed and shoved into doing a History GCSE. At the beginning I thought it was the end of the world! I refused to accept that History might be interesting.. However I had a really cool teacher. His lessons were very rarely boring, it was a relaxed atmosphere and I really started enjoying it. He would incorprate History into games and real group activities (not like the usual, "get into a group and dicuss...") we would make news clips and video documentaries and edit them etc.. I found that History became naturally interesting to me, btw I have no idea how this might help you in any way, but now that I've wrote an essay, I may as well submit it =]
Comment by Zirror on May 17, 2010 at 4:37pm
as an aspiring teacher myself (even though in a different country I assume (<- german)) I feel your pain.
Knowing for the sake of knowing, especially stuff that has no usefulness whatsoever (in their mind, e.g. intepretating poems, analysing sentence-structure etc.) in their future lives, is extremly rare nowadays (and always was I guess.)

You have to level with those kids, get them to help each other. Kids are far more open to accepting help from their 'kind' than from strange adults.
Trying to make kids wanting to know for the sake of knowing is almost impossible, if they don't see any reason for it.
There are always some hard core examples, but you should probably discuss the major problems with your colleages who know the same kids.
Comment by Amanda on May 16, 2010 at 8:21am
Candy! that always motivates me!
How about sorta like a reward for good effort. Say "If a certain amount of students (say only 6 people make good grades in your class tell them 8 people have to make a good grade on a test) we can watch a movie on Friday or something like that. And if more people start making good grades raise the number of people who need to make good grades on an assignment.
I don't know if it's good idea or not, just trying to help.

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