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Is there "a difference between a 'student' and a 'learner,' between a 'teacher' and an 'educator.'
If we gave students a choice about which classes to attend each day, would they choose our subject? Would they view our pedagogical approach as worthwhile and interesting? A teacher’s job is not to be an entertainer, obviously. Gail Godwin’s quote, that “Teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater,” holds true only on a certain level. But the role of the teacher is undoubtedly to engage each child and inspire interest.
The partnership between student and teacher relies on expectations. When these needs are met, they create decades of learning and admiration. When unmet, however, they foment years of delay and resentment.
Via Beth Dichter, Sue Alexander
Novel study reveals why some people are better at achieving their goals than others
There are two types of motivation. Internal motivation drives people to achieve a goal for its own sake, whereas external motivation is not directly related to the goal itself. For example, if you are learning how to play the violin, you may be internally motivated by your love of the instrument, but also externally motivated by your parents’ pride or your hope that the skill will help you get into a better college.
According to one school of thought, internal motivations and external motivations are both effective. But some psychologists argue that only the internal motivations work for long-term goals, such as career achievement or learning new skills. The problem is that laboratory studies of motivation have focused only on short-term goals.
So a team of psychologists has turned to a natural experiment that has been playing out for more than 200 years. Every year, about 1300 young men and women enter the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. Only about 1000 of them graduate. Of those graduates, a smaller portion pursue military careers beyond the mandatory 5 years of service. And fewer still are selected for early promotion, a mark for those on their way to the top ranks. What motivations do these students have when they enter West Point? It turns out that the academy has recorded just that through its annual survey of the incoming cadets, as well as by tracking their career outcomes.
The study "reveals that intrinsic motivation is powerful, but it is also fragile," says Adam Grant, a psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "Even when West Point cadets found their work interesting and meaningful, if they were also strongly motivated by extrinsic rewards," such as a good salary or the respect of their peers, "they were less likely to complete their studies, continue their service, and get promoted early." This creates a paradox for ambitious people. If achieving a goal strikes you as having many benefits beyond the goal itself, but you care too much about those added benefits, you are more likely to fail.
"In the context of learning, intrinsic motivation is motivation that stems not from external factors like grades and status, but rather from genuine interest and ambition. Like altruism, it assumes no reward. But – like altruism – it is difficult to corroborate. Even if Sally, your best student, completes the Extra Credit assignment out of pure enjoyment, it doesn’t mean she isn’t expecting external rewards like approval and attention.
Some psychologists go so far as to claim that intrinsic motivation doesn’t exist. Professor Steven Reiss at Ohio State University believes that human motivations can’t be forced into one category or the other and labeled as good or bad.
“We are taking many diverse human needs and motivations, putting them into just two categories, and then saying one type of motivation is better than another,” he says. “But there is no real evidence that intrinsic motivation even exists.”
The argument is that people should do something because they enjoy it, and that rewards only sabotage natural desire.
“There is no reason that money can’t be an effective motivator, or that grades can’t motivate students in school,” he says. “It’s all a matter of individual differences. Different people are motivated in different ways.”
Via Beth Dichter