I spent the holiday weekend at my parent's house in Richmond, Va., where my Dad raised an interesting (if not harebrained) theory about why students aren't motivated to study science. The real downfall of science education, he said, are all the safety regulations that prevent kids from "doing anything exciting." Some of his favorite childhood memories were formed while he was hunkered down over a chemistry set, where he would mix chemicals and perform experiments that sometimes resulted in a spontaneous combustion or a singed eyebrow. If science education were more like that, he argued, kids would be more interested. ...


We would like to introduce you to a new feature on our blog designed to help you read more about the subjects that interest you most. If you take a look over on the right-hand side of the blog, underneath the "Recent Entries" section, you'll notice a new section called "Categories." We've gone through and organized our past blog posts into subject areas, so that when you click on a category, you will see all the blog posts ever written in the history of Motivation Matters about that subject on one easy-to-read page. Since motivating students relates to a wide ...


Education Week's Lesli Maxwell has written a number of heartbreaking, and sometimes inspiring, stories about schools in New Orleans this year, and her latest, 'The Hurricane Messed a Lot of Us Up,' is no exception. The story is about a 16-year-old student, Giovanna Batiste, who returned to New Orleans after spending two years going to school in Houston. Now that she's back in New Orleans, Giovanna says it's harder to learn. "People come in late, or they talk over the teacher and you can’t hear the lesson," she says in the article. "Or they clown around so much ...


There's an AP story up this morning about Naomi May, who began teaching elementary school students when she was 18 years old and is still teaching today--70 years later. That's longer than a lot of people live! She's now 88 years old and has been in the classroom long enough to teach some of the grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, of her first students. Ms. May was so motivated to teach that even after she retired in 1981, she couldn't stay away from school. "I live just across the fence and I could hear the bells," she says in the article. "They...


My attention was first directed to the Atlantic Street Center after reading this article in The Seattle Times last week. The Seattle-based nonprofit aims to help low-income families raise healthy, successful, academically eager children through a variety of services such as tutoring, study skills instruction, and cultural awareness workshops. Eager to know more, I e-mailed Darcy McInnis, the organization's communications coordinator, and she agreed to answer a few questions about what the organization does and how it increases student motivation. Her responses touch on a lot of issues we write about in this blog--parent involvement, early childhood education, community involvement, ...


A recent column in Education Week offers an update on the cash for test scores debate, which we have covered on several occasions in this blog. This update sheds research light on the debate by examining a new report by a professor of labor economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The study found that when students and teachers in some Texas public schools were offered up to $500 for each passing Advanced Placement score, AP participation and scores increased....


As a science-challenged student in my younger years, I did everything I could to avoid taking difficult science classes even though I lived in a family of scientists (my father was a college chemistry professor and my older brother followed in his footsteps.) As a parent, I have tried to overcompensate for my scientific limitations by encouraging, prodding, and pleading with my boys to see the beauty, power, and potential career possibilities that science offers. Unfortunately, I believe my efforts are failing. I am sure there are a number of reasons. But high up on the list is a reality ...


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