Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chapter 8= The End!!

I thought it was very fitting that Crawford decided to write his final chapter about the value and importance of being intrinsically motivated as well as the benefits that failure can have on a person (and their drive).

Motivation is something that I think all teachers struggle with (especially as the students you work with get older). We are all much more motivated to complete and achieve at "leisure" activities that something that we are forced to do. Think of our students for example, they have no problem persevering or paying attention through a video game or producing quality work on their dirt bikes or snowmobiles.When students are interested and invested in what they're doing for more than an extrinsic reward, their achievement level soars. Unfortunately, we continue to cut programming in schools that allow learners to have these experiences and don't insist that classroom teachers pick up the slack for this loss. As Aristotle is quoted on page 198, "all human beings by nature desire to know". Think of how excited kindergarten students are for school. What experiences do learners have that make this love of learning disappear and more importantly what can we do to bring it back? If you want an interesting read on motivation (it is not an educational text), Daniel Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us will make you ponder.

I have said on many occasions that I think failure is one of the most important components of the learning process. I specifically liked how Crawford spun this section to discuss the importance of our top students failing. It is definitely not something that they are accustomed to, which means when they do fail for the first time it's going to be a very difficult blow to their ego and self-esteem. We need to allow all students to fail and get back up in a safe environment. Honestly, if everything is always easy to our learners, then we probably are not doing all we can to challenge them. My best friend was our high school valedictorian and went on to Bowdoin then completed her graduate program from University of North Carolina to be a genetic counselor. Last summer, she had an internship through Yale. She has never had to work incredibly hard and has always succeeded. She called me the second week of her internship saying how miserable it was and how much more difficult it was than she anticipated. The other people she was working with didn't respect her opinions because she was just an intern and she was doing menial tasks. She had never experienced not being the smartest person in the room and she didn't know how to handle it, plus she had no support group around her to help her overcome this difficult placement. Although this situation probably would've happened either way, had she experienced failure/not immediate success prior to this internship, she would've been in a much better position to overcome it and probably wouldn't have wanted to quit the entire 12 weeks. I think we're doing a failure to our students if they never have to work through difficult times until they're 26 years old.

Also, I had to add that on page 181 Crawford states that "The teacher who is really a teacher loves children, and wants to figure out how to make them smarter". I don't really like this statement at all. Crawford has made many insightful observations throughout this book and shown his personal belief on the value of gaining deeper knowledge and experiences. He is not one for brevity, but this comment is just that and not does not go with most of the other things he said in the book. Sorry for the rant, it just irked me.


  1. I think that statement is a non-teacher trying to figure away to say what he wanted un artfully....

    Daniel Pinks "A Whole New Mind" is a good book as well the connects everything said in this book.

  2. Nice blog post Lindsay! I agree with what you are saying about offering students a safe place to fail. I know Keith mentioned this before, but I learned a lot from my failures made a lot of growth from them. We need to make sure our students understand and know that making mistakes is OK. It will promote risk taking, which I learned is critical in thinking creatively.

    I enjoyed reading about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. We talked a lot about that in the other grad course I took this summer which focused on creativity. We need to motivate kids in order to help them grow, but that can be difficult! Especially knowing intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic motivation. I guess I should put those fuzzy pencils and jolly ranchers away :P just kidding, I'm sure they are a little motivating. I just want my students to have an activity, hobby, or skill that is intrinsically motivating to them. I feel like we are taking away opportunities for students to find what motivates them intrinsically by cutting all the special programs.

  3. Intrinsic motivation is hard to find in some students and hard to teach. The world we live in today has taught kids that "everyone's a winner" "everyone gets a trophy". Kids expect to get something when they complete something we ask them to do. The grade on the test/project/homework isn't motivating for many students. However, if you offer up a jolly rancher or lifesaver for doing well on an assignment, students seem to be more apt to put forth the effort. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard a student say "I get $5 for all the A's on my report card, and $2 for any B's" (or some variation of that. I NEVER got paid for getting good grades. It was just something I strived for and knew was expected in my house.

  4. Actually you did get "paid" because you wanted to earn the grade or saw a reason for it. I don't mind rewarding behavior above and beyond. For instance, when my 5th graders win for being fastest car they earned it. The others are amazed when I just don't give them jolly ranchers for trying (they are the participation generation) I also increase the size of the prize as they win bigger things (fastest over all 4 classes for example) It is not about NOT rewarding but rewarding for a specific thing and not rewarding for everything. I believe an A for you meant something... and an A meant something back then. We have screwed up the grades so much none of it means anything.