Want the kids you work with to be more motivated?

If you do any work at all with young people, there’s a good chance you have wished (at least once!) that you could inspire them to be more motivated. If so, read on. The best kept secrets in inspiring autonomous and responsible learners are simpler than you might think.

  • Motivation is driven by choice :  It seems so fundamental, but we are still living in a world where the people who are working so hard to develop programs and services for young people don’t always seek out their input on what exactly they want or need.  When young people are given choices, they are more engaged, more inspired and more likely to autonomously pursue learning.
  • Give it to get it:   We want kids to show more initiative and take more responsibility, but the very structure of programs (planned to the max) often works against this. If we want kids to show initiative, we have to let them make decisions. One of the unique ways MAP is working more student choice into our programs is to let students vet applications from various nonprofits and choose the ones they feel are the most worthy/needy of the free video we’re producing.
  • Confront the elephant in the room: If you’re an instructor or teacher of any kind and you want to inspire more autonomous learning in your program or classroom, at some point you’re going to have to get real and that means confronting the elephant in the room. There isn’t one of us who teaches programming who doesn’t harbor the secret fear of losing control of the group.  The same mentality is prevalent in our schools, and it’s exactly why enthusiasm for learning takes a nosedive around 3rd grade (when school becomes more structured and student choice goes out the window.)  Tying learning to student’s personal interests and giving kids a voice in their learning is win/win for everyone.
  • D0: Begin with opportunities to ask questions. State what is expected. Provide regular feedback. Confront disappointment when students don’t meet their goals. Praise progress, effort and the above and beyond. Appeal to curiosity.  Let them pursue their own questions and solve their own problems.


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