As I finished up my masters degree last year I took a class on motivation. It was fascinating how the class influenced my view of student motivation – or why students behave the way they do in the context of school. I went in with a certain view of what a “motivated” student looks like – interested, prepared, always engaged in class conversations, gets good grades, etc. I came away with a different way of looking at motivation in schools. The most important principle I learned – all students are motivated, they simply may not be motivated to do what you expect.
If you are even the slightest bit interested in what motivates your students I encourage you to read Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students by Denise Clark Pope. (For a quick taste of the book check out this Q and A with the author.) The book tells the stories of five high school students – each with very different motives and approaches to “achievement.” I could see some of the students I’ve worked with over the years in the characters described on the pages of this book. If you read it, I’m guessing you will too. In fact, the students in this book were likely in your class today. I wouldn’t call it just a “good to read” it’s an “essential to read” for educators. This book offers a great reminder about what we we’re called to do – help young people learn – plain and simple. It seems to me that an unbalanced focus on anything else (grades, test outcomes, awards, etc.) creates the potential for the phenomenon Denise Clark Pope calls “doing school.” Find a copy today!
Professional Development Tip for 10.2.08