If you look up the word unmotivated, this is one definition that you might come across:
having no desire to do or succeed at something.
That seems a little strange, don’t you think?
Why would anyone NOT want to succeed?
The way I see it, students who appear unmotivated aren’t avoiding success. They are avoiding failure.
Let’s say that you’re a third grader. You receive third grade assignments every day.
Each time you’ve attempted third grade assignments in the past, they have been beyond your capabilities.
You tried to make sense of it all, but weak underlying learning abilities make everything look like a foreign language to you.
Still, you try. You fail. You try again. You fail. And again…and again…and again…
Oh, and by the way, this has been going on, at some level, ever since first grade.
We’ve all heard the old adage: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Sure. That’s lovely.
Then again, would you ever ask a blind man to try to see?
Oh, that’s okay, buddy. No really. Just keep trying. You’ll get there if you just stick to it!
Ridiculous, right? Is the blind man unmotivated for recognizing how ridiculous that is?
That’s essentially what we ask our struggling learners to do, and then wonder why they give up on themselves.
Why does he only want to play video games, you ask?
I’ll tell you why. Because he’s good at it.
Why won’t she at least make an effort to finish her homework?
Because the effort:
- is exhausting,
- only leads to frowny faces from her parents and teachers, who disapprove of her sloppy writing and wrong answers,
- never leads to any reward, intrinsic or otherwise.
What if, on the other hand, your child felt supported?
If we hold the bias in our minds that a child is lazy or unmotivated, even plastering a fake smile on our faces won’t hide that.
Instead, let’s acknowledge that asking a second grader to read a seventh grade chapter book is setting him up for failure.
Wait… what? Kind of obvious, right? We would never do that.
And yet we still expect third grade struggling readers to read third grade material, without actually providing the tools that make that possible.
That’s on us, not them.
Let’s also find ways to help them succeed at learning. Let’s give them some incentive.
How do we do that?
We find learning intervention strategies that are tailored to your child’s current abilities; not the abilities we expect her to have right now, but the ones she actually does have. Then we gradually build up from there.
With that goal in mind, I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to create an online course designed to:
1) put you and your child in the driver’s seat of learning,
2) help you find the missing pieces to your child’s learning puzzle, and
3) help transform learning into something your child is good at (just like all of those video games)!
While the course is currently in beta, parents who wish to help their children pile on the successes can subscribe to the newsletter. You’ll be among the first to receive the announcement, likely in late spring, 2019.