I was sitting in a room that had no movement of air, the temperature was stifling, and the speaker had droned on for the last 80 minutes. I was eyeing the nearest exit and determining the shortest path to the door from where I sat. I was doing whatever I could from not losing my mind: pinching myself to focus, wiggling my foot, drawing pictures on the agenda…I was picturing myself running screaming out the door, arms flailing in the air, hollering, “I can’t take this anymore!” Whatever the speaker was saying was not sinking in my brain. What if I would have been tested on the material? Yikes! What if I was told, “Since you’re not learning this, we’re going to do this UNTIL THREE O’CLOCK THIS MORNING!!!” Would that force me to learn more, and ENJOY it?
Another time I sat in the back of the classroom repairing computers while the teacher was up front teaching. As the class took turns reading paragraphs, I watched the scene. Students were bored senseless, and when the teacher realized, she said, “Everyone pay attention! NOW! You’re going to be tested on this!” The trouble maker, sensing kindred spirits, leaned over and whispered, “Now you see why I do what I do! I suffer this everyday!” It was hard to not smile and agree. Can you imagine the motivation he would have felt if suddenly the principal walked in and said, “Since you all are not learning, not only will we be coming on Saturdays, but this will be for eleven months of the year!”
I’m not making this up, for the Secretary of Education recently suggested this in Denver: “You’re competing for jobs with kids from India and China. I think schools should be open six, seven days a week; 11, 12 months a year,” Duncan said.
Can you hear the kids high fiving each other?
Why not, instead, motivate them? I’m motivated to get my Masters in I.T., so I am pushing through the long hours, long papers, and boring sessions at the mighty HP while I see a beautiful day outside. If I had been a student in the above settings, you certainly would not have given me inspiration by prolonging the agony.
David Warlick writes an interesting article about the same topic at 2 Cents Worth; you’ll enjoy hearing others’ comments.