Motivation and Discipline

One of the goals of discipline is to instill in students the motivation to be responsible and to do what they need to do. Following are three ways to foster the internal motivation that leads to lasting self-discipline.

1. Create curiosity: Curiosity is perhaps the greatest of all motivators. Here is the difference between American and Japanese styles of teaching: In Japanese schools, students are immediately introduced to a problem or challenge. They grapple with it. Curiosity is naturally engendered. By contrast, in American schools the main idea(s) are presented, the solution is taught, and then students practice. Where is the curiosity engendered using this approach?

2. Create desire: Students are constantly asking themselves, “What’s In It For Me?” Since they’re tuned to that radio station, WII-FM, spend a little time at the beginning to talk about what the lesson has in it for them—long and/or short range. Consider asking why the lesson would be worthwhile, how students may benefit from it, and how they can make use of it. In fact, start by asking these questions of yourself. Stuck? Put it on the table for students to grapple with. You will be amazed at (1) how resourceful they will be and (2) how it helps them buy into the lesson.

3. Encourage: One of the most effective techniques is to let the student know that you believe s/he can accomplish the task. A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than a whole lot of praise after a success. Emphasize that learning is a process and that no one can learn something and be perfect at the same time. Doing something one way and not being successful is another thing learned; don’t consider it failure.

The more you focus on motivation, the fewer discipline problems you’ll have.