In a recent New York Times article entitled ‘How Can You Make a Student Care Enough to Work Harder?’, Jessica Lahey asked several educators for their opinion on the age old dilemma that parents face when their child just doesn’t seem to be putting in the effort. Most spoke of the need to stay positive, focus on the positive and accept that children won’t always dance to the beat of our drum!
“Finally, my own advice is also to back off, as counterintuitive as that may feel. Instead of increasing pressure, surveillance and control over your children, try releasing your hold. The fastest way to undermine intrinsic motivation (motivation that comes from within) is to increase parental control. But research has shown that the best way to increase intrinsic motivation is through promoting autonomy and the competence that follows from doing a good job on one’s own.” Jessica Lahey
As Daniel Pink emphasizes in his book ‘Drive’, intrinsic motivation is the key to sustainable success and finding what lights our fire is a good start! We have just had our parent teacher conferences where the students were involved in the goal setting process. Teachers and parents obviously need to guide the process in the younger years but ultimately the better the children get at choosing realistic, achievable goals themselves and then experiencing the thrill of success creates the conditions under which intrinsic motivation can be a powerful force in our lives