(And this is happening ALL across the country !!)
This is WHY I have a career and why ‘The Big Picture’ manages to make the huge impact that we do with students across the UK.
Nearly 4000 student Facebook fans can’t be wrong !!!
There are two BIG factors that concern me right now about our education system that are causing students to be more demotivated.
- EMA – Education maintenance allowance
- FEAR – and the culture of not allowing mistakes
These two factors are discouraging students and demotivating them.
1. EMA – Education Maintenance Allowance
The reason we go to school is because of these long term motivators … our desire to…
- Learn (be educated).
- Grow (if you don’t you’ll die !).
- Get a better life.
No-one ever went to school for the sake of it and it is not always going to be enjoyable – it just isn’t. BUT, it is a damn sight more enjoyable NOW than in the days when I went to school, just trust me. However, contradicting this is the fact that students are less engaged than they used to be!! This is not a FACT but it is true (as I have no data to prove it).
BUT we then introduce a short term motivating factor called ‘money’ which is the government’s way of saying ‘please go to school’ and ‘please work hard’ and I’ll pay you for doing so.
This message is so confusing…
- It means that everything becomes short-termist.
- You’ll get paid for coming to school – this is extrinsic, not intrinisic.
- You’ll get something NOW ie. money.
- You’ll focus more on this (the short-term) and less on where it’s taking you in your life (the long-term).
For some students the message it’s delivering is “you’re better off being poor because you’ll get EMA benefits over other students, so you might as well do nothing, be poor and just get the benefits instead!!” – imagine what kind of culture that builds?
2. FEAR – Not allowing students to make mistakes
I’m going to presume like most people that YOU learn most in your life when ‘things go wrong!’
Q. Is that true for you? It’s definitely true for me,
- When I got divorced, I reconsidered everything about how I’d behaved and how I would behave in the future.
- When I lost my job I worked out how to do better next time and avoid that situation, etc…
The time you changed most was when you ‘had to’ not when you ‘wanted to’. The two reasons people change are normally…
… and the most powerful of these is desperation because it’s a threat that you ‘have to… do whatever you have to do …. or else’.
So, basically what I’m saying is that we learn most through making mistakes. That’s how everybody learns quickly.
Picture the scene then…
- A student says “I’ve got no pen” – teacher says “I’ll get one for you,” when they should say “find one then”, or “copy the work up tomorrow”, but of course that doesn’t happen.
- A student says “Not done my homework” – teacher says “don’t worry I’ll extend the deadline” when they should say “oh dear, that means you’ve failed this module”, or “sorry you get no marks then”, but of course this doesn’t happen.
- A student says “I don’t want to do this” – teacher says “get on with it”, when they should say “well, that’s a choice you have to make”, but of course this doesn’t happen.
This is the teacher fixing the student’s problem. They’re not allowed to fail, at least that is the message that they get. Students, if they are to grow, have to find their own answers not answers we give them.
Let’s face it, you wouldn’t give a starving African food handouts indefinitely: you have to, at some point, give them the tools and the knowledge for them to grow their own food, not feed them!!
It’s the same for education.
BUT, in school… if they haven’t got the answers, we give them the answers.
BUT, in life… people don’t want the answers, they want the tools to find them for themselves.
So, you can see, something has gone wrong.
My job is to give students THOSE tools that they need for life not just the ANSWERS to life. My job is to let them make their mistakes and fail… not deliver them a ‘life’ with all of their answers, because… I don’t have them.