Motivation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’ and having a motivational force in your life is important as it gives you a purpose to do anything, even if you are unaware of it completely yourself. Motivation is influenced by intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) factors and these can be very personal to the individual.
Motivation I feel tends to come more from extrinsic factors, especially the motivation towards education. I have always felt education is a method to progress through life and personally I have used education to better my future prospects. I was raised to believe a good education would lead to a better and more stable life so my motivations over my life have broken down to getting good GCSE’s, good A-Levels to go to University and then a good degree to get a good job so I wouldn’t have to worry about bills and all those adult things in life (well worry as much). This came from having a mother who never did education well and a father who could have done more with his and their message that this was the best way to get through in life however what I have chosen to do (art and design and teaching) is an intrinsic motivator. I want to be happy in my job and future and this is what I have come to do, my love for art was nurtured by family but I could have easily done something else in my life, to achieve the external motivator of a comfortable life.
For students today I fear that their motivations are not as straight forward, from the experience I have already had in the college I fear that their motivations for things like education are not as strong as the ones I had, they have to be in education until they are 18, they have to have Maths and English, and although these enforcements are there to help depending on the students background and natural ability they may not see it that way. For those students that try hard and achieve little (in terms of the correct grade like a C at Maths) their motivations dwindle, they wonder ‘what is the point?’ and if they don’t have a stable background (parents that work for example) they may switch off completely. If they are also not in a subject they enjoy (going back to that intrinsic motivation, wanting to learn for your own pleasure of understanding more) than again they have no real motivation to be there.
This is the struggle I feel teachers face today, giving students the reason to be there. With more pressure being put on educating to have a good paying job, to have any chance of paying off your student debt then those less academic students might not bother going that route at all. The benefits for them do not outweigh the motivation they can drum up.
The Behaviourist Approach to motivation is the reward system, (which is the: educate to improve job prospects and pay outcome system) however where the issues above are in place this is not good enough. Many students (at least a good proportion I have seen) give up too easily; achievement for achievements sake, for a long term outcome is again not enough for them. Their long term outcome for them might not seem worth it, they might feel they will never be able to pay off a student debt and would prefer to go straight into work (which is becoming harder as it) and so the vicious circle never ends.
I feel a large part of teaching in 16+ if finding what makes these students tick, why have they chosen art and design rather than photography for example? Giving them good career advice and showing them what is possible. For those students that have no idea (for there will be many who know exactly what they want to do) It could mean breaking down the stages, having more opportunity to award the steps taken but that these rewards need to be managed and at a level that suits what has been achieved (for a student that had punctuality issues perhaps they can leave class early if they have arrived to every class on time through the week).
Motivation will always falter, they will wonder what the point is, everyone does ( I did many times during my masters) but being a good role model for these students can also help them see what motivation and drive can do and being able to help them through their days where they want to give up is probably the hardest .
I feel I have rambled a little in this post but it’s late and my brain hasn’t really worked all week…