Tony Gurr

Personal Reflections on MOTIVATION – Guest Post (by Laurence Raw)

In Classroom Teaching, Guest BLOGGERS, Learning & Parenting, Our Schools on 11/06/2013 at 3:53 pm
I have decided to take the day off – to allow you all to ponder my last couple of posts.
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We have been looking at the issue of motivation – and the current challenges across canım Türkiyem have been causing more than a few of us to reflect on our lives, our work and our families.
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This guest post is the result of both these processes.
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Laurence (guest post header 04)
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The question of how to motivate learners is a difficult one.
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I was talking to my fourteen-year-old niece last Sunday, who is contemplating changing schools, as her current institution is “boring” with its incessant focus on exams and knowledge-based education.  I asked her what she would like as an alternative, and she quoted her father, who had previously described her as “a creative person.
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A good education in her view should help to stimulate creativity.
Creativity (Maya Angelou quote)
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However “creativity” is a slippery term.  Entire schools exist in universities devoted to “the creative industries;” despite the positive-sounding nature of the term, many of their members are caught in the educational treadmill of producing papers and/or research, or finding outside funding for projects, so as to ensure their futures.
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Failure (failure zone)
It would be great if we could adopt alternative visions of “creativity”for example, by encouraging our learners to rearrange what they know in order to discover something they do not know.  Maybe we need to remember what the fourth century BC philosopher Mencius once said: to promote an atmosphere of creativity we need to remember how “great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart.”
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I told my fourteen-year-old niece of how I used to amuse myself; as an only child, I didn’t have many friends and learned how to play on my own.  I used to make up stories, using my soft toys as characters; and subsequently wrote them down on an old typewriter.  Through this activity I learned how much I liked to write; I continue doing so to this day.  In other words, that “childlike heart” within me still blazes, even though it’s a long time since I played with my soft toys.
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A genuinely creative classroom values the “childlike heart” in all of its members, learners and educators alike.  It permits experiment; lets people take risks; and does not place any stigma on failure.  As Tim Harford once remarked, success always starts with failure as individuals learn from their mistakes and are encouraged to creative something new and different.  They can only achieve this in a mutually supportive atmosphere, once which recognizes that all of us, whatever our age and/or experience in life, have that childlike quality within us.
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Learnacy ZONE
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This is a far more important motivation for LEARNing than any of the rulescurricula, syllabi, and exams – that govern the most classrooms.  Thomas Edison was once asked by one of his laboratory attendants: “Mr. Edison, tell me what rules you want to observe?”  The great inventor replied crisply: “There ain’t no rules around here.  We’re tryin’ to accomplish somethin.'”  Exactly what that “somethin'” might be in the classroom should be determined through collaboration between educator and learners.  If everyone listens to each other, then they will learn to value their “childlike heart.”
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Risk-taking (quotes)
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None of these ideas can make my fourteen-year-old niece’s search for a good education any easier, as she decides whether to find a new school or stay at her existing one.  But at least by listening to her “childlike heart,” she might sustain her motivation; if she can find like-minded people to work with in any type of institution (the home, at school, in a private course, or wherever), then perhaps she can recognize the value of LEARNing.
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LEARNing vs TEACHing 02
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Maybe we should all recognize the importance of this.
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Laurence Raw

(aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)
Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com
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