John Locke

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Should teachers be asked or required to motivate as well as reach their students?

As a student who loves to learn I never understood my peers who were afraid of or who didn't enjoy school! But whether I understood them or not the fact remains the same. There are people who do not like to learn or go to school. Well obviously this is a real issue and my question is should teachers be in charge of not only teaching students about their subject but also inspiring them to enjoy, learn, and share knowledge. If they should do this, how can they create an environment where this can happen?

  • Aug 19 2012: Of course teachers should be expected to motivate students! A teacher has to be a salesperson. Just like in sales, you must first convince the customer that your product has value, then that he or she NEEDS your particular type of the product, and if they miss getting it from you, right now, they may not have another chance. If you believe that the majority of students have sufficient motivation from their parents or within themselves, simply make an announcement that school it now optional and see how many show up tomorrow! But you can't "force" a teacher to motivate students any more than you can force the student to learn. True enthusiasm, like education, comes from within. Enthusiastic teachers would benefit from professional development classes with skilled salespeople and motivators like Dan Pink and Joe Verde...but school system administrators haven't crossed that bridge yet. I am a science teacher. I win my students' confidence first by treating them with respect, letting them know exactly what is expected of them and what they can expect from me, and then following through. I am very enthusiastic about teaching and about science, and every day I watch that fire spread to more of my students. That enthusiasm, not some state requirement, threat of punishment, or promise of reward, is what gives me the ability to motivate. The skill to motivate comes from years of sales and instructional experience.
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    Aug 5 2012: I wanted to add that there are some people that participate on TED who are ridiculously good at teaching. These are often retired people. It seems to me that it would be a 2 for 1 deal if these people could be better utilized.
  • Aug 4 2012: It would be a very poor teacher indeed, who did not inspire their students. The social background and family support network of the students will have a substantial effect on their dreams and aspirations and thereby, how they perceive the role of the teacher. It is well established that learning does not stop for people when we leave school or university. Accordingly, it is unreasonable to expect the teacher to be responsible for motivating the student as a formal requirement of their teaching practices.

    Trying to teach a child to read for pleasure is utterly futile when their normal home life does not include books or a parent who will have read stories to them when they were young children and be willing to buy them books. I was asked to send my 10 year old son to another child's birthday party and I asked the mother what sort of books her son liked to read so that I could find an appropriate book as a birthday present. She said that her son did not need a book as he already had one! Against that sort of background, there is not much chance of a teacher inspiring the child to read and worse... the teacher would be held responsible for the child's failure to read or to learn or to be motivated, under the scheme you propose.

    Good teaching is always inspiring to the students and clauses to force teachers to motivate students are unnecessary. An interesting and well presented subject will move students to explore the subject for themselves and to grow to love learning for its own sake. There is an argument to be made for not measuring the learning that people undertake but teaching them to love seeking out knowledge for its own sake... removing the didactic elements of teaching and encouraging people to find their own level. Of course, society still needs (for example) its scientists, engineers, mathematicians and lawyers so examined subjects will still be used as the primary tool with which we evaluate so-called 'success' and 'failure' in formal education.
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    Aug 3 2012: You will be happy to know, Jake, that teacher training focuses very heavily on this. I cannot speak to what such training looked like in the mid twentieth century, but the big word in education in the 60s was "relevance", and beyond that aspect of the culture (which just let me say was heard at least as often as the words "crowd-sourcing" or networking may be today), research into how children learn places motivation and the connection of the material to students lives as perhaps the most important components of effective learning.

    That said, the concept of "in charge" or "requirement" in the case of influencing other people is a funny one. Motivation is a joint product among teachers, student, family, social context... None can somehow overthrow and entirely mute the others in the sense of "required" or "in charge." Teachers need to have a toolkit, and receive training in this through their education as well as learning their own ideas of what works and what doesn't through their experience and collaboration with others.
  • Aug 9 2012: Yes they should be forced more times than not a students interest and success highly corresponds with how the particular teacher teaches his or her subject or class. It is important for teachers to interact with their students in an academic level and try to raise the students interest in the subject. A teacher that can not achieve that in my opinion does not deserve to shape and mold young minds.
  • Aug 5 2012: Sometime we hate easy subjects and we love difficult ones. it is mostly about how an instructor teaches and (deals) with his/her students
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    Aug 5 2012: Yes.....
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    Aug 4 2012: Is the word "reach" in your headline a typo? Did you intend "teach"? Two different questions.
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      Aug 6 2012: Oh well yes I did mean teach but reach is a question that I'd also be very interested to hear about. My bad for the confusion.
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    Aug 3 2012: I think education is the responsibility of the individual. To think otherwise or to tell the students otherwise is a red herring. Imo you should tell students that it is their job to get educated so there is not a misconception or assumption on their part and that you are there to help them as much as you can.

    When students reach a certain age, maybe 15, they might be done with school (I was) they should be allowed and encouraged to go to work. It might also be the case where after working in jobs that are hard like picking vegetables or some construction jobs they might be more interested in school?
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      Aug 3 2012: Yeah, it's the student's role to learn, and the teacher's role to teach, and we need to play our parts.

      But, the student is usually not at fault. I mean, how many times have people been turned off to math, due to the way they are being taught the subject?
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        Aug 3 2012: Endlessly that is irrelevant. Just to be clear the options are learn and apply or do something that does not require learning and applying, which usually in my neck of the woods means not fun you know pump porta potties, pick strawberries, dig ditches with a shovel, etc.

        Your right these people (me being one of them, in my case I was given a drug called Ritalin and they hammered into my skull that I could not learn due to the learning disabilities I had) have every right to be upset with their teachers. But again that is irrelevant.
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    Aug 3 2012: They need to make learning fun, because it should be, by nature, fun.

    However, lots of people including me, hate memorization or textbook learning. To most, that is not fun at all, and it's wrong to associate school with "learning by the book" methods. The thing is learning can take many other forms, not just by textbook. Socializing, cooperation, sports, games, Youtube, Googling, Wikipedia, etc.

    The current system supports "booksmart" people over "streetsmart" imo.