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Motivation Matters Says Goodbye

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When Kevin started Motivation Matters, it was with the idea that this blog would be a helpful resource for educators, parents, and community members interested in how to spark the interest of students and improve education—something I hope we've been able to accomplish over the past two and a half years. We've talked at length here about the importance of creativity and innovation, whether or not incentives lead to higher student motivation, how grades and GPA factor into students' desire to achieve, and much more. This blog has provided me and Kevin with an outlet to discuss the motivation efforts of schools across the nation as well as some of our own personal motivational struggles. I, for one, will miss Kevin's takes on the motivation issues he has dealt with regarding his children and the boys he coaches in youth sports.

But it is time to move on and turn coverage of motivation issues over to the growing roster of blogs now featured on edweek.org.

Motivation Matters was the first blog to emerge from the Education Week newsroom and it served as a great jumping off point as we as journalists began diving deeper into the waters of Web 2.0. And although this blog may have run its course, student motivation continues to be a significant piece of all aspects of education, from curriculum to teaching methods to technology, which is why I strongly encourage you to look through the rich variety of blogs that edweek.org now offers to read about the different ways student motivation is affecting education.

As for me, I'll still be blogging over at Digital Education, which is all about how to use technology to engage a generation of students who are quite literally "plugged in" in a way that no other generation has been before. I hope you'll continue reading over there, or at one of the many other blogs that edweek.org has to offer.

And before I sign off, I (and Kevin) want to thank all of the devoted Motivation Matters readers who have left insightful comments, sent us thoughtful e-mails, linked to our posts, and essentially made this blog a worthwhile interactive experience. It's the interactions from readers like you that have made this such an enjoyable and educational experience for the both of us.

Stay motivated!

9 Comments

Self motivation is the best and in case, you lack the positive thinking or self motivation then a quick session from Narconon Vista Bay can become triumphant.

As a life long learner and part time educator, it is great to see blogs like this out here in the vastness of the web. With life, we all must move on to new things, and find a new Day1 . Fortunately, motivation is core to many aspects of life. Best of luck and I look forward to future posts.

I just came across your blog and I am sorry to read that you have decided to move on. Motivation is so important. May God bless you on your future adventures.

Mark Bowser
author of "Unlocking the Champion Within"

Oh no. Another one of my favorites bites the dust. Here's another great motivation article that really works for kids:http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/how-to-get-motivated-and-set-goals-the-top-ten-tips/

I quit agree with thoughts expressed over here. Self-motivation is perhaps the most important thing to achieve something.

When we are talking about motivation, we "should be talking about" long-term motivation to learn. Motivation to learn and enjoy learning requires us to understand how our indiviudal environments greatly affect thinking, learning, "motivation to learn or mental reward received for mental work expended, and also our mental/emotional health.

As we understand more so how our individual environments create our motivations to learn, we can then learn how to begin approachin our lives more delicately to improve thinking, learning, and motivation or mental reward received for mental work expended.

One good way is to redefine average stress as layers of mental frictions.
We need to see mental stress more accurately as “layers of mental frictions” that accumulate in our lives and hurt our ability to think and learn. By redefining average stress as average layers of mental frictions, we now have tools to more permanently reduce layers of mental frictions and improve thinking, learning, and mental/emotional health. Some things do not create mental stress at all. Laughing, crying, running, and swimming are not good stresses but low, if any stress. We are using energy, but we are “not creating mental frictions” from it. In this definition, “stress does not occur” when energy is expended without mental frictions. By seeing stress more accurately as layers of mental frictions - layers of conscious and subconscious (below the surface) unresolved mental frictions, we can see how our individual environments greatly affect our ability to think, learn, and improve. We can use this better definition of stress to help students and adults continually improve their ability to think and learn by learning how to more permanently reduce layers of mental frictions.

The first tool: stress is more accurately defined as layers of mental frictions. When we are performing mental work, our minds are also subconsciously working on other layers of mental frictions from various problems, circumstances, etc. All of us are working on different amounts or layers of mental frictions that impede our ability to think, learn, and develop skills. Try to picture an upright rectangle representing our full ability or full mental energy to think and learn. Then begin drawing from the bottom, narrowly spaced, horizontal lines to represent layers of small and some large layers of mental frictions our minds may be working on consciously and below the surface or subconsciously. The space we have left represents our leftover ability to think, learn, and grow mentally and emotionally. The length of this space also represents our length of reflection time or time to think more deeply to consider long-term rewards or consequences for a course of action. This shows just how our individual environments greatly affect our ability to think and learn. Persons with high layers of mental frictions will have to work harder to receive the same mental reward for mental work expended. Ask yourself, which makes more sense, are we just genetically more or less able or do our individual environments greatly affect our ability to think, learn, and develop skills. For our own good, we need to recognize how our individual environments greatly affect ability and how we can more permanently reduce mental frictions to continually improve thinking, learning, and mental/emotional health.

This tool provides a way to permanently reduce layers of mental frictions. We need to do more than just solve a problem creating a mental friction. We need to look at the elements in our lives that create those mental frictions or problems and our values that may be creating those problems. Then, we can begin to understand a little more each day how the elements of our circumstances and problems are creating mental frictions as they come up. Then with a small change in a weight or value we are placing on something in our lives and developing a mental principle or rule in a certain area of our life we can then resolve and more permanently remove that layer of mental friction. By slowly understanding how layers of mental frictions are created, we can then learn to approach those elements in our lives more correctly to keep like mental frictions from occurring in the future. This enables “all of us” to more permanently reduce layers of mental frictions that hurt our ability to think and learn.

The Savant is able to perform mathematical or musical feats because theoretically, the mind is dysfunctional in many areas and is delivering extra mental energy to other areas like math or music. Since we as so-called, normal human beings are affected adversely by layers of mental frictions in other areas of the mind, which function normally, our abilities in such areas are by comparison, impeded.

With each more permanently removed layer of mental friction we will continually improve thinking, learning, and extend reflection time (think more deeply, with more complexity, and more correctly). Remember, to more permanently reduce layers of mental frictions we need to change the principle or value that created that mental friction, “not just solve that problem” to prevent similar mental frictions from occurring.
This shows how layers of mental frictions hurt ability to think and learn over time. The space left over shows our leftover ability for thinking, learning, and performing mental work. The more space we have, the more we are able to think with more complexity or improve abstract thinking. The top of the chart shows how very high layers of mental frictions can create psychological suffering and create many escapes such as drug/alcohol abuse, violence, and suicide. The vertical line or line from the top to the layers of frictions represents our length of reflection time. A shorter reflection time and psychological suffering can lead to many harmful escapes that would not occur had there been lower layers of mental frictions before that situational stress had occurred. By more permanently lowering layers of mental frictions, we can prevent many deadly forms of escape and increase our reflection time or time we take to think, plan, and make decisions.

Second tool: the myth of hard work is beneficial only when performing old work (skills already mastered), not in performing new mental work (skills in process of being learned). There are misguided beliefs regarding mental learning when they attempt to compare mental learning with physical work. As a result, we have many sayings such as “Just believe you can do it." or "Just put your mind to it" and you will succeed. These phrases sound good but still follow the harmful teachings of fixed intelligences.

True academic knowledge and skills accumulate over time through intrinsic reward and enjoying the long-term process of academic learning. This long-term learning requires more stability, knowledge, and support from others to maintain that learning and motivation to learn. Hopefully my theory will provide a means to achieve some of this need, even when it is lacking at home or in that person’s individual environment.

The attitude of hard work when performing a new mental work actually impedes learning and long-term motivation to learn or desire to acquire more knowledge and skills. As our pace and intensity in approaching mental work exceeds our immediate knowledge and experience, we create much greater mental friction and further impede our ability to think and learn. This hurts both short and long-term motivation in mental areas for students by reducing mental reward received for mental work expended. This also shortens our length of reflection time (ability to think more deeply).

When approaching mental work, situations, problems, or academics we should begin slowly and simply reflect on the information we have. This will create a small base area of knowledge with notches to add more information. As we slowly add more information, our base area of knowledge will increase naturally and the number of notches to add more information will multiply, thus naturally expanding our pace and intensity of learning. If we applied our present myth or teachings regarding mental work and immediately applied a lot of mental energy, we would waste energy trying to place a lot of information onto just a few notches. In this way, we can see how incorrect pace and intensity kills both short and long-term motivation in mental areas. By trying too hard, we are overwhelming our minds with information before understanding and usefulness has been established. This is another reason why the myth of permanence in ability to learn continues, because only slight improvement occurs with hard work.

High layers of mental frictions may also “cause” students to approach mental work in an incorrect way or try too hard. I feel if we were to have a point of perfect stability then the dynamics of approaching mental work (academics and other learning material) would be approached in a more perfect dynamic way: the child will more naturally approach new mental work more slowly at first. As a person gains knowledge and skills in an area, his pace and intensity will increase naturally with equal enjoyment of learning. With more mental friction or less stability, that added instability disrupts or causes the child to be less focused and/or use the added mental energy or mental friction in his life to try too hard or apply too much effort in relation to those mental frictions. Many children need to be taught the dynamics of approaching new things more slowly to help offset the improper tendency of trying too hard or applying too much effort. This only hurts motivation or mental reward received for mental work expended. Both problems of high layers of mental frictions and improper pace and intensity accumulate over years to creates large deficits in learning for many students and adults.
Approaching mental work correctly is important for students to learn and enjoy learning new knowledge and academics. The little girl said "This goes here and that goes there." had the right idea. In time, she will know where this and that goes and will learn more advanced skills with equal enjoyment. In the physical world, we may work hard; in the mental world, we need to work easy. The dynamics of approaching all mental work correctly affects every aspect of our life.

By lowering layers of mental frictions and changing pace and intensity in approaching newer mental work, we will increase motivation to learn and develop more complex mental/emotional/social skills over time. These tools will create the mental reward received for mental work expended or long-term motivation, intrinsic reward, and love of learning that are vital to being a life long student. This makes a student better able to compete in the information age. Students who begin this process late in life will still lag behind their peers in knowledge, confidence, and experience in certain areas. However, using those principles, a person can begin to catch up and even go ahead of his peers. After correcting my speech impediment, I did this.

I also disagree because motivation is needed everywhere and in every work. Without motivation we can not achieve any thing in life.

Awesome!!! Nice write-up. In this present scenario of economic downturn motivation is very important so that employees do not loose the rope of hope. Employee recognition, employee retention, employee performance monitoring is very important.

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