Motivating a Student

This post is about a communication I received from a teacher in Pakistan and my response to help her motivate a student.

Her communication:
“Thank you very much to enlighten us with your great thought-provoking ideas. I am a very regular reader of your newsletters. My question is: As a teacher, one cannot inculcate any skill to a child if there is no will. How can we work on will of a student?”

My response:

Excellent question!

You are right when you refer to not being able to inculcate a skill in a child who has no will. Therefore, the question becomes, “How can you create interest so that the young person will WANT to do what you would like?”

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Let the youngster know that you understand how he or she feels and that you will make no attempt to change the youngster’s feelings. (This approach is often referred to as paradoxical in that as soon as you indicate you will do nothing, the person very often wants to do what you originally wanted him or her to do.)

2) Establish more of a relationship with the person by regularly acknowledging anything that you can see (e.g., smiling face, good handwriting, leadership qualities, successfully working with others–anything that you can acknowledge). Since emotions follow cognition, this will prompt positive feelings.

3) Continue to ask reflective questions such as, “Since effort brings the reward of satisfaction, what can you do to make yourself feel good?” Some examples are on my website.

4) Give the youngster some responsibility to perform. Let the youngster know that you need some assistance in an activity, that you recognize the youngster has a talent for leadership, and then ASK the youngster if he/she would help you. 

5) Invest a little money in the e-book Children of the Rainbow School. The stories and illustrations have young people WANT to rise to the highest level of personal and social development. Selected pages or the entire book can be printed.