Assassinating Laziness

For years, teachers and educators alike have dealt with this burning issue: How do we motivate our students? Without incentive to perform, most youth slug around trying to do as little work as possible without trying. Teachers try to fix teenage carelessness in two ways– using extrinsic or intrinsic motivation.

However, intrinsic motivation can be used as a positive teaching tool to engage and encourage students to strive towards productivity. Intrinsic learning uses the ideology that we perform certain activities for inherent satisfaction or pleasure. Intrinsic motivators in education can be defined as presenting challenges, control, curiosity, and recognition to students to increase a self pursued satisfaction.

Countering that belief is extrinsic motivation, which refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual. The motivating factors are external, or outside, such as rewards, money, or grades. Using recognition, an intrinsic motivator, in the classroom causes students to be motivated from feeling accomplished with their work, which establishes self-worth. The students become more willing to do a good job because they crave feeling good about themselves.

Michael Lisin explains how heart-felt recognition can motivate a student. In his article, “Small Gestures Of Praise Can Make A Big Impact”, he explains how the right amount of praise can go a long way after watching his colleague over praise her student, who became unproductive from embarrassment. Lisin writes, “If your praise is genuine and comes from your heart, it will have the desired effect” (Lisin). Using recognition can cause a student to realize the good effects of their work. Once self-esteem has risen, kids are more motivated to feel confident in fishing their work, raising productivity.

Besides raising self-worth, intrinsic motivators help develop an internal locus of control. Locus of control is closely related to motivation. In the article, “Intrinsic Motivation” , by P. Theroux, he deeply explains why a locus of control should be developed. Theroux writes,”The child who perceives that he or she has no power will either see himself as a victim of chance (and/or other people’s power) or as a warrior who needs to gain power to control or manipulate other people in order to avoid being helpless” (Theroux ). Teens who feel responsibility and control within their learning are more self-motivated, countering students who feel powerless in their learning. If students do not feel they have any control over how they are learning, then they are less motivated toward completing tasks.

Despite the benefits of intrinsic motivations, others may say that an extrinsic style gives an easily attainable reward that boosts productivity quickly. Extrinsic motivators, such as giving candy as a reward, is an easy way to get results within students quickly. Teachers use extrinsic motivators because the students can see the reward, and this style is an easy fix for unmotivated kids.

Giving outside motivators may fix the problem quickly, yet can come with some nasty side effects. In an article published by Psychology Today, Myers explains how extrinsic motivators wear off over time if continuously used. He states, ” Most people think that offering tangible rewards will boost anyone’s interest. In experiments, children promised a payoff for playing with an interesting puzzle or toy later play with the toy less than do children who are not paid to play. It is as if the children think, ‘If I have to be bribed into doing this, then it must not be worth doing for its own sake” (Myers). Once an external reward is given, that reward must keep being increased to sustain the same level of motivation. After a while, the reward becomes an expectation, and the students once again become unmotivated.  The evidence is overwhelming: Intrinsic motivators are the key to opening success and motivation within students.

Educators can fix their sluggish students. Rebooting how educators motivate is the only way we can increase productivity within students and fix their motivation block. The time is now, and we must take a stand to fix this issue.