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Survey: Teens Not Motivated

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We have an interactive device on the home page of edweek.org that allows us to conduct a weekly poll. To be sure, this online poll does not meet the standards for scientific polling. It is an informal survey, no more, no less.

Still, it is a lot of fun to use and it is growing more and more popular among our online readers.

For Motivation Matters, this week's poll results are especially worth noting. We asked readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "Most high school students are not motivated to do their best."

Of the 495 people who responded to the poll, 80 percent (399) agreed with that statement.

Those results raise the questions: Why are most high school students not motivated to do their best? And what can parents and educators do to motivate them to try harder?

6 Comments

Students feel education is irrelevant to life. We have created an "entertainment society" (sports, games, T.V....) Education is not valued or regarded as necessary. When they come to school their mind is everywhere else dealing with all they deem important (friends, phone, MySpace, car, shopping, latest T.V. show/movie, Xbox, Gameboy...). They do not see education as preparing them for their future life or career. They believe they will walk out of high school and get a job paying $30,000 with no skills or work ethic.

Kevin Bushweller asks "Why are most high school students not motivated to do their best? And what can parents and educators do to motivate them to try harder?"

Lets consider these questions separately.

Students are not motivated to do their best for many reasons. Included would be competing demands on their time, home problems, immaturity, and lack of personal discipline. Add to that list the pervasive lying that goes on when grades are handed out. It is improbable that a B student will strive to do A work if only a B performance is required to receive the letter A on a report card. Similar comments exist for every other grade or alternative metric used to convey the level of student performance.

Motivation increases when parents are high-performance, highly-educated professionals with ample time for child-rearing. Since such parents are in the minority, motivational problems are inescapable, though malleable to some unknown degree.

Possible motivational approaches include national testing and grading to reflect the reality of national competition for jobs and higher education. Accurate grading is a prerequisite, in my view, for substantial student learning gains.

Paying teachers variably to reflect their diverse teaching performances has merit.

External motivation, while not long lasting, has been the preferred method of motivating students. For the most part it works. However, we are seeing a change in student behavior and external motivation is not as effective as it once was. Internal motivation takes a lot more planning and thinking as it is not the norm. Since there are fewer teachers that work in this area, there are not a lot of models to see. Activating the Desire to Learn by Bob Sullo is an ASCD book that does a simple job of describing internal motivation and how to implement it in the classroom. We are no longer able to assume that students come to school knowing how to behave. Educators must spend more time teaching the behaviors necessary for students to become successful in school as well as in life. Nobody said it would be easy.

I agree that many students are not motivated to do their best. I also teach a number of students who do stive for excellence. The reasons for low performance are easy to find and therefore attribute blame to. I'd like to explore what motivates high achievers. Let's learn the habits of the successful and encourage this behavior.

i'm a ninth grade student at my high school, and i'm not moviated and i really haven't been since i little. the only i'm doing well in is my acting class, my photography class, and my french class. the only other classes i'm passing is math, surprisingly, and maybe biology, but i would have like a d. can some give some tips on what really helps, because i know i'm smart, i have a pretty high IQ and a 2nd year college reading level. please help.

i think that chesterfield county schools are a piece of shit.they help the "specialty" students and dont wanna help the lower level students


*class of 09*

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  • aiesha moore: i think that chesterfield county schools are a piece of read more
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