It’s obvious that a hardworking teacher’s results will be better than those of a near-to-passive teacher, but, in my experience, no matter how hard I work, I’m always left disappointed with the outcome of my efforts. Why?
Children aren’t motivated to learn. From a very young age, they’re motivated to be competitive. I can certainly understand why parents who were high achievers at school expect their children to excel, but I can’t wrap my head around non-achieving parents who demand so much from their children – competitively speaking.
What about the masses of students who are not self-motivated and struggle academically? Do we just leave them to swim against the rapids of information-overload – content-heavy, homework burdened and test-driven terms? They’re there, in the classroom, available to be educated, but for approximately ten weeks per term, they're in the torrent barely surfacing. When we are told to focus on the academic achievers and to leave those who do not want to work to either sink or miraculously survive, we cannot really consider this to be effective teaching and learning.
Is this the way forward?
I’m back in Grade 10, picking up where I started three years ago, working hard for the results at the end of 2021. It's my third cycle of doing this. My first group was from 2013 to 2015; my second group was from 2016 to 2018. It doesn't get easier.
Those who sink won’t be there. Suffice to say, I won’t be leaving any soldiers behind. Any one of these students who fail Grade 10 or 11 will be because of another subject or two. I’ve never had a fail (touch wood) and I work hard to make every learner understand our purpose. My mantra remains: Do good! Do good! Do good!
Reality check: Even under the best circumstances, being purpose-driven is not easy when working in a system that doesn’t work for you. I don't have to be in the classroom, but I want to be there. I want to teach. The students don't want to be in the classroom, but they have to be there.
- Choice: Teenagers have no say in what and how they learn.
- Effort: Teenagers need to expend effort to learn.
- setting goals;
- planning, organizing and rehearsing information;
- monitoring his/her level of understanding; and
- relating new knowledge to what he/she already knows.
- Grit: Teenagers need grit to learn.
Everything in life takes time to develop. Learning is a lifelong process. Success doesn’t occur magically and failure isn’t a sin. In fact, through our own experiences in life, we discover that failure is a learning opportunity. In every situation, in every experience, we always learn something – even through making the wrong choices or failing to achieve something, we learn. Persistence is limited because of the lack of skills.
Every child has a natural potential for learning, curiosity about life and the world they live in, and an eagerness to learn. If we can tap their intrinsic motivation, instead of dampening it, and teach them from a very young age what the value of learning is, we will have students who accept responsibility for their own learning, and provide society with a more knowledgeable and better skilled citizen.