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Children don’t want to learn! Entertain or compel?

A new school year has begun. As a school psychologist, I attend parent-teacher meetings. I am engaged in the so-called psychoeducation. I tell “unenlightened” parents about the age characteristics of adolescents.

Parents listen – some with obvious interest in go math 3 grade, some with thoughts about how many cases could be redone during this time at home. And so on until it reaches the most painful. Before the notorious “learning motivation”.

“What are you telling us! Theory is one thing, but in practice it is quite another! – the indignant parents shout. – We are already dancing in front of them almost on our hind legs – they do not want to learn! ”.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with my “psychological educational program” – flowers in comparison with the battles that sometimes flare up between teachers and parents. “You should interest them!” – the parents are fuming. “We don’t owe you anything! – teachers fight back. “When was the last time you were in a theater or a museum with your child, or did you read a book to him before bedtime?”

And what about the children?

– I hate history and geography and 4th grade go math! – a sixth-grader daughter informs me. – Teachers are so boring to teach.

– Sunny, we have encyclopedias and books at home – for every taste. And on the Internet there is a sea of ​​information on history and geography. Do you want to read together, if the lessons are not interesting?

“No, Mommy, thanks, I don’t want to.


– We were given a report on geography. About Christopher Columbus.

– Great, here is a very interesting article on the Internet.

– Ma-am, it’s long! Let’s find it short. (Then he finds a concise biography, written according to the principle “I was born there, crossed myself there”.)

– Sunny, how about going to the local history museum for the weekend?

– Mom, what are you? In the same sko-u-scholarly! Let’s go to the mall!

– My dear, so what do you, pray tell, want from the teachers?

A curtain.

For my daughter, of course, for the indifference to the exploits of Columbus and the exhibits of the local history museum, I am not offended. An ordinary teenager. As they say in such cases, “capable, but lazy.” He loves mathematics and Russian and go math grade 5. History and geography are not very good. Has the right to.

But to students who complain that they are “poorly taught,” I always say, “Are you really interested in this subject? Amazing. Opportunities for self-education – the sea. Suggest an Internet resource? Ah, you yourself are not interested? Then why are you complaining about the teacher? Claims – to the mirror. ”

Animator costume or steady hand?
Well, what about the notorious “a good teacher should be able to interest any student”?

To be honest, I am afraid to hold another educational program among teachers on the topic “ways to increase student motivation”. I am afraid that my colleagues will arrange a “dark” day at the end of the working day. And they will do the right thing. Because only the lazy did not tell them, poor fellows, about “non-traditional technologies”, “innovative teaching methods”, “group forms of work”, “brainstorming sessions” and the like. Teachers about the need to implement these methods are not only regularly notified, but also require a report on the work done. Can you demonstrate what innovative methods you use in class? Meanwhile, I have attended the lessons of my colleagues more than once. They really do almost dance a polka-butterfly in front of the children. And nothing has changed. The question is why?

I will share my thoughts.

Well, firstly, from the experience of supervising my own psychological work. The supervising methodologist, after reading my minutes of psychological analysis of the lessons with standard recommendations for teachers to use “non-traditional forms of work”, politely advised me not to write this nonsense again. Because to keep the child’s attention in the classroom, it is enough just to change the types of activities in time. First they read it, then they wrote an exercise, got tired – played, and again read and write. Because no one has canceled the traditional forms of working with children. And the teachers are already ready to put on an animator’s costume, if only the children “learn”.

Secondly, from my own teaching experience. In addition to psychology, I am also engaged in private teaching of English. I remember one junior pupil. What have I done with him! Pictures, games, cartoons, I don’t remember everything. And the child does not want to study, “at least fight.” And he sabotages our lessons in every possible way.

As a result, by mutual decision of the parties, we stopped classes. And what do you think? The parents hired a tutor a la Freken Bock, and the child began to learn English like silk. Without any games, cartoons and other dances with tambourines. Here, obviously, the personal factor worked: I am a rather gentle teacher, and that boy clearly needed a “stick”.

Teenager: I study because I have to
And now I’m getting to the most interesting moment for me.

In early September, I am conducting a study among the most “demotivated” audience of schoolchildren (grades 6-8). In order to find out what motives of educational activity are dominant. Among the proposed educational motives were: external (carrot-stick), cognitive, self-development motives, emotional motives (comfort in the lesson) and the motive “student’s position” (“I study because it is necessary”). Guess what the final picture is?

Cognitive motives and motives of self-development, as expected, tend to zero in the majority of adolescents. The carrot-stick motif also works poorly. Emotional motive – only in certain, sensitive individuals.

But the motive “I study because I have to” is quite well formed among the majority.

Now, attention, a question. Which of the teachers and parents appeals to this familiar, quite traditional motive? I think very few people. Because some of the luminaries of pedagogy recognized this motive as ineffective. And I decided that only intrinsic motivation can be effective. That is, the motivation for knowledge and self-development. Sounds pretty. But in fact, it turns out that you will not find such motivated teenagers in the daytime with fire. And what happens? Are teachers dancing Lezginka in front of children trying to influence the most uncharacteristic motive for students?

One involuntarily recalls Carnegie with the famous “I myself like to eat strawberries and cream, but, nevertheless, when I go fishing, I take worms with me.”

I wonder why the motive “I study because I have to” was recognized by educational psychologists as ineffective? After all, it is this motive, in fact, that is the driving force for adolescents. The basics of developmental psychology: the leading activity of adolescents is not learning, but communication. And they are concerned not so much with the biographies of great scientists as with their place in the sun in the classroom.

The external motive (praise from the teacher or parents) remained in elementary school. The motive of professional self-determination is still far from it. The hormonal background is changing. Relations with classmates at this age are not easy. Well, what are the cognitive motives here? Let’s call a spade a spade. If the average teenager learns successfully, it is most often because “it is necessary”, and not because it’s so interesting. Although, of course, there are exceptions.

However, teachers and parents persistently try to cultivate motives that are not characteristic of this age category. And they break the spears, whose fault is that the children do not want to learn: careless parents, mediocre teachers, idler students or the Ministry of Education.

Sharing responsibility?
The age-old question: what to do and who is to blame? Personally, I would suggest sharing responsibility among everyone. Then each side will get a conditional 25% responsibility. We recognize that a child’s desire to learn is 25% dependent on the pedagogical skill of the teacher. Another 25% – from the abilities and interests of the child himself. 25% of the responsibility falls on the parents. Moreover, I think that the motivation of children depends not only on how closely the parents are engaged in the child. A significant role is also played by the extent to which parents themselves are motivated to learn and self-development.

Well, and the last 25% I would give to external factors. Let’s say, the influence of the information space. It’s no secret that twenty years ago children read books not so much because they were so drawn to knowledge, but because there was no particular alternative. Interesting films were rarely shown on TV, few people had computers, and then they did not even suspect the existence of social networks.

I would also include some educational programs as external factors. Sometimes, when you read a textbook, you want to invite the “author to the studio” and invite him to teach himself a lesson on the written creation.

School rules that interfere with increased learning motivation
And, at the risk of incurring public outrage, I will nevertheless allow you to express my bewilderment about some of the innovations in school rules. For example, I am sincerely surprised why it is considered possible to let a student go to the toilet from the lesson, and even if the teacher knows that this particular friend, instead of going to the toilet, will wander around the school in search of adventure, it is impossible to deny the student his legal right.

At the same time, it is forbidden and punishable by law to put an overly mischievous bully out of the door for a couple of minutes to “come to his senses” (even if the classroom door is open and the guilty one is in the teacher’s field of vision).

It is even more surprising why you should not put two’s. But you can’t – at least burst. If the student does not know anything and does not even try to find out, the administration orders to draw triplets (although, if a commission comes with a control cut, and a fake C grade gets an honest deuce for this cut, the teacher does not blow his head, but that’s another story). What do you think: this factor has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that “they do not want to learn”?

The question remains open, I invite everyone to think …