stat counnnter

Friday, February 08, 2008

How Not to Motivate Students Pt. 1.

Pedagogically Correct Volume 2, Issue 5
February 7, 2008

"Pedagogy": The art and science of teaching.
:: Calling All LifeLong Learners: Learn Science the VanDamme Academy Way!
:: Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog

The following is from an article featured in the education section of USA Today on January 28, 2008:

"Teachers have long said that success is its own reward. But these days, some students are finding that good grades can bring them cash and luxury gifts. In at least a dozen states this school year, students who bring home top marks can expect more than just gratitude. Examples:

·Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso last week promised to spend more than $935,000 to give high school students as much as $110 each to improve their scores on state graduation exams.

·In New York City, about 9,000 fourth- and seventh-graders in 60 schools are eligible to win as much as $500 for improving their scores on the city's English and math tests, given throughout the school year.

·In suburban Atlanta, a pair of schools last week kicked off a program that will pay 8th- and 11th-grade students $8 an hour for a 15-week 'Learn & Earn' after-school study program (the federal minimum wage is currently $5.85)."

This article, which understandably makes many parents and educators bristle, raises a real and important question: How do we motivate our children to learn? In my lecture "Motivation in Education," I addressed the "cash for grades" and other desperately misguided attempts at motivation. I boiled the motivation theorists down to three essential categories, which I will explain over the next few weeks.

The first category includes those who attempt to create "motivated" students by allowing them to engage in activities of their choice, activities that are inherently enjoyable given their juvenile desires.

The Waldorf Schools, for example, say that until the age of seven, children should be taught no academic skills, including reading or writing. Instead, they are encouraged to participate in activities believed to be natural to their stage of development, such as finger-knitting, storytelling, and movement games. The FAQ section of a Waldorf charter school says that at Waldorf Schools "abstraction and conceptual teaching are kept to a minimum, especially with younger children. In this way children become more personally engaged in whatever they are learning." (emphasis added)

An Atlantic Monthly article praising the virtues of the Waldorf method describes the activities of a dozen fourth graders in the original Waldorf school. "The class was finishing a year-long project: making mallets for wood carving out of stubborn pieces of hardwood, which they were patiently filing and sanding by hand. One boy, who had finished his mallet, was making a knife out of teak, and regularly paused to feel its smoothness on his cheek." The author also respectfully describes the enthusiasm of a 12-year-old Waldorf student in a depressed California town, saying, "[He] sat with me after school, regaling me, in enthusiastic detail, with a creative mixture of Greek and Roman history. The boy could barely read, but he'd been inspired by the oral storytelling that Waldorf teachers emphasize."

These children are-in a sense-"motivated," but motivated to do what?

To say that a person is motivated is to say that he has some drive or desire that incites action. For the purposes of a rational discussion of education, that drive or desire must incite the ambition to learn. It must incite the drive to acquire knowledge-and not just any knowledge, but that knowledge necessary for life as an adult human being.

Motivation cannot be confused with any feeling of eagerness, enthusiasm, or joy independent of the focus of those feelings of the purpose of the action they incite. The manager of a company would not describe his employees as motivated if they were eager and excited to come to work every day so that they could play basketball in the company gym or spread gossip in the break room. A motivated employee is one who is inspired to action consistent with the central goal of his job.

Similarly, it is not relevant to a meaningful discussion of motivation in education to discuss the suggestion that the problem of motivation be solved by offering children a program of all-day recess. This is not a solution to the problem; it is an evasion of the problem.

In the next newsletter, I will describe another theory of motivation-in this case, a wrongheaded and disastrous approach to motivating real academic content.


Calling All LifeLong Learners: Learn Science the VanDamme Academy Way!
Now Anyone Can Understand The Fundamental Principles of Science Better than Most Scientists
"Fundamentals of Physical Science: A Historical, Inductive Approach"
By David Harriman, Historian and Philosopher of Physics

Learn all about it at our brand new website.

Here's what other Pedagogically Correct Readers are Saying:

"I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in physics, and I was amazed at how much I learned from David Harriman's course. This course stands head and shoulders above any other course or textbook I have encountered."

"It's perfect for someone relatively new to physics like myself; it's perfect for even advanced people who want a deeper historical perspective than is usually taught...I found Mr. Harriman's physics course to be an exciting walk through the fascinating world of physics."

"I think this type of course is needed for everyone, as in my experience, it's so far above the courses I've had throughout my life as far as the actual transmittal of knowledge is concerned...In short, this course has made science and math much more intelligible for me, and was completely worth the time and cost - I highly recommend it."

I was a physics major when I entered college, yet I can easily say that my actual understanding of physics is much greater as a result of this course than I can credit to any other class I've taken.

With this course you will:
* Finally understand the world around you, the world of science and technology, in a way you never thought possible. (No, you don't have to be a math wiz.)
* Learn the thinking methods of the greatest minds in history.
* Understand what all those physics equations and formulas you once memorized really mean.
* Be inspired by scientists' amazing 2500-year quest to unlock the mysteries of the physical world.
* And have a great time in the process!

All thanks to a one-of-a-kind science teaching methodology available in no other course or textbook.

Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog
Check out our 'blog, which will contain much (but not all) of the material we sent out in our newsletters. Spread the word!

VanDamme Academy encourages you to forward our newsletter to your friends or post it on your website or blog. If this newsletter has been forwarded to you, you can sign up to receive Pedagogically Correct for free, at www.vandammeacademy. com.

Happy Learning!

VanDamme Academy--Experience the Power of a Real Education

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Have u try the online bookstore

I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are brand new textbooks and half price discount textbooks.

Good luck and wish some help.

hehe ^_^