The Importance of Intrinsic Motivation
Students of Today Require More Freedom
It is obvious in today's world that a new direction in education must be found and soon! Methodologies such as guided-discovery and self-motivated research should be incorporated to a greater extent. To facilitate these methodologies, teachers must guide their students from behind the scenes, rather than in front of them, as witnessed so frequently in typical class rooms. In this way, the teacher can quietly direct hands-on and self-guided learning. Self-guided learning puts students more in touch with a process of true learning.
Consider these questions regarding true learning:
* If true learning is defined by the retention of information, what mental process allows this to actually take place?
* Is "teaching to the test" detrimental to the retention of the information taught?
* Do students retain the information they have learned to pass a test?
* Are public school curriculums concerned with information being useful to the students after the test is passed?
* What are the tests testing and why?
* Is it the job of the teachers to keep students quiet for the purpose of learning through a process of passive absorption?
* Is it the teachers job to motivate the students to learn?
* Does true learning only take place when the desire to learn is activated by the student's own will to learn?
What one witnesses in public schools today is generally the forcing of students to learn. They are expected to sit in uncomfortable desks and learn through a process of absorption. These archaic practices are from old-school styles of teaching but, they are becoming less and less enforceable and realistic in modern society.
Students are expected to shut down their wills in school, but meanwhile, they live in a society which encourages great freedom and individual expression! Yet, because it is convenient for the teacher to stand and deliver the same lecture, class after class, she preferrs the "I teach, You listen" approach. She might as well come out and say, "Please, sit there, open up your brains, so I can pour in what I and Others have decided is pertinent."
And forget about encouraging students to consider why the information is important. Information must be learned for the sake of the Grade which Everyone expects the student to work for. And if a student is lacking in motivation, instead of encouraging the student, he is punished with a low / bad grade. This result serves only to diminish motivation and furthermore, causes the student to identify himself as a bad student or worse, not intelligent! However, it usually is the case that these students are quite intelligent. Most of them just have bad attitudes which have caused diminished levels of motivation. The bigger pictures in these children's lives must be considered and evaluated. A child's school and home life can be integrated through parent-teacher networking. This integration would serve to protect both positive attitude and self-esteem in a "whole child" manner.
The desire to learn should be respected, encouraged and inspired. The natural desire to learn comes from intrinsic motivation. It is interest which must be protected and fostered. Ask any educational psychology professor what enables the retention of knowledge and he will explain that it is "hit and miss." If this is true, why do we issue grades at all? I have always been puzzled by the expectation of earning good grades. The important thing is that teachers activate their students' interest and motivation. A student's willingness to learn is not only for the sake of his future, but for the sake of developing knowledge and abilities toward what could become a career, trade, or profession.
Proposed school classroom set-up for a new direction in education:
Encourage schools to bring forth their students' potential for thinking, observing and discovering. The school should be geared toward helping students find and define their own purposes and goals. Within its environment, it provides time, space, information and projects. Students are encouraged to guide themselves, through free choice within general guidelines established by the school curriculum and the teachers. Students will work individually or in groups according to common interests. Classrooms will have books, computers/laptops with internet access.They will also have software programs such as Word, Photoshop, other graphics programs, accounting programs and programs for other various applications, such as beginning Solid Works, etc. There will be supplies for constructing models, and designs. The students will have what they need to write reports through self motivated research. Tests will be taken when the student deems he is ready to be tested, after preparing himself through self-directed study. Teachers will inspire students to branch out into other areas by linking subjects such as Art to Science, Music to Math, History to Science and Social Science to Statistics, etc. The teachers will cross reference other subjects with other teachers while specializing in their own fields. The teachers will serve as guides toward exploration and discovery.
Other factors to enable the smooth functioning of such a school:
The students will learn how to schedule their time and balance rest and work. They will be expected to conduct themselves responsibly and behave appropriately. They will be researching and studying subjects during two hour blocks. Block schedules will allow enough time to pursue didactic learning activities which will be available in all classrooms. Teachers will be positive and set good examples in behavior and dress. Boundaries will be strictly enforced. These boundaries will foster freedom, focus and concentration. A holistic approach will be used in taking into consideration the home lives, diet and social lives of the students. Pharmaceutical substances are not allowed. All students are to be accepted as they are and offered tutoring, as needed.
Ultimately, the school of the future will provide ways to help it's students understand and survive in the world/society they live in. In this new direction for education, teachers will be able to guide students toward successful futures. Working on research papers and classroom projects and passing tests are not only worthwhile ends in themselves, but should be geared to help students learn what they need to know in the future.
The highest good is that which is for the sake of itself and something else.
My writing excerpts from Forum Post titled "Be Honest" where I asked others to explain why they disliked school k- ?
ONE: Writing Leads to Reading
Teachers who talked endlessly about their personal lives irritated me.
These were usually the English teachers trying to fill in time, it seemed, and bored with their day.
Creative writing stopped in sixth grade.
Grades given for understanding other authors instead of fostering creativity and self-expression.
… because you can't grade self-expression and self in-tune-ment?
Proper grammar, spelling and editing should be stressed by English teachers through writing rather than through reading, in my opinion.
I learned to write by keeping very detailed journals as a child, teen and beyond.
Writing is thinking slowly and clearly.
Writing leads to reading and not the other way around.
… and this understanding is helpful in teaching the very young to read.
They need to learn how to write first. ____________________________________________________________________________
TWO: Art is Not Frivolous
I believe drawing, 2D and 3D art experiences should be encouraged early on.
Most children love to draw, paint, sculpt and decorate, so why not allow them to do art projects to explore such subjects as geography, science, history and math?
I clearly remember one of my fifth grade teacher's art/science projects. She had each of us tie a long string to a small plastic tomato basket and suspend it in boiling water. I watched my little basket twist about as it melted in the boiling water. After we pulled them out, we observed the melted lumps harden into interesting forms. Each of us decorated our own crumpled basket with paint and glitter.
Instead, most teachers (back then) saw Art as a frivolous Friday activity.
THREE: The Concrete Realities of Arithmetic
Right now, as I keyboard, millions of children are stuck in school. Every single day they get up and drag themselves (or are dragged) out of bed. They obediently go through the morning rituals and eventually find themselves in their classrooms listening obediently to their teachers. They try their best to do assignments which today are generally too advanced. Mathematic Concepts are expected to be absorbed and retained minus the background/basis of the Concrete Realities of Arithmetic:
"College professors are distressed by the low level of understanding of Algebra and Arithmetic by large numbers of White as well as Black students as they enter college -- even students who have taken calculus in high school. This concern prompted the local college math professors' professional association [ the MD/DC/VA section of the MAA] to issue its statement "ON MATHEMATICS PREPAREDNESS" College math professors decreed: "Students should be able to perform Algebra and Arithmetic calculations, without the assistance of calculators." This is the opposite of the MD HSA on calculators-based Algebra, which effectively mandates the exclusive use of calculators for Algebra."
Also from the above report:
“Children who have been mathematically abused () are much less able to benefit from mathematically competent teachers when they finally reach them. One lesson our current elementary school teachers convey powerfully is that math is too difficult to understand. Because knowledge of mathematics correlates strongly with economic and political achievement, the mathematical education of all elementary school teachers is the paramount equity issue. As Will Rogers said long ago, ‘You can't teach what you don't know any more than you can come back from where you ain't been’.”
Back then, I remember being often confused when presented with math concepts. In first grade, my beloved teacher, in front of the whole class room explained in great agitation: "You have two cookies and if you eat one how many are left!?"
"Oh!" I said, "One. "
"Well, that is subtraction!"
Why didn't she say so in the first place?
Today it is even worse. Children are taught horizontal style algebraic equations before basic vertical style arithmetic starting as early as first grade.
Children need to understand why we use math and how it applies first and foremost. I was finally introduced for the first time to the number line, (neg and pos numbers to either side of the middle zero,) in college!!! Was I the victim of of "mathematical abuse?" (or what could that term actually mean?)
What was expected as we went through school? Sitting very still and listening quietly. And we adapted. We learned to be obedient to the teacher, listen blindly to concepts and regurgitate them on tests for the purpose of being graded … Only.
FOUR: Valuing the Now!
Teachers teach usually for the purpose of some future result, such as grades or tests. They do not allow students to enjoy NOW in learning.
I remember sitting at my homework desk at home. I had to define English words. I had to learn how to spell them ... for fun? for creativity? For some present time literary purpose?
No, for a test! Sometime in the FUTURE.
What is the point of homework? (I ask as a kid.)
We do not know or care. This is because we kids do not develop our frontal lobes, where the sense of time is, until about twenty four! Teachers need to teach to the now in us. Contests, games, classroom challenges, group projects would be stimulating and enable us to experience and retain our academic lessons in present time. To sit there class after class listening to YOU trying to literally cut open our brains and stuff (whatever YOU deem to be pertinent) info into them is hard for us to handle ... Yet you did way back when and you still do to this very day!
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