MOTIVATING THE UNACHIEVERS
"Most of the problems of education are problems of motivation...When a child is self-motivated, the teacher cannot keep him from learning.", said C. John Sommerville, in his book "The Rise and Fall of Childhood"
Underachieving students have a significant gap between their ability and what they produce and achieve in school. Not only do report cards reflect poor grades but a youth may show extremes of behavior ranging from withdrawal to defiance.A highly intelligent child may be denied entrance into honor classes and urged to take either general or vocational classes because of a lackluster middle school performance.
In order to motivate underachievers we must help them identify and honor their unique learning styles and passionate interests. For many, this also involves recognizing and removing psychological and environmental obstacles to self-realization.In the process, both families and schools may need to re-examine assumptions of what "achievement" is and the forms it may take.We must honor their learning styles, help them discover their unique abilities, and give them appropriate tools for successful achievement.
Not every person learns in the same way. It is important that each student be given an opportunity to explore a variety of ways to successfully accomplish a homework task or do a term project.Offering unconditional support to a youth increases self-esteem as well as the belief that the world is a good place in which to live. Being willing to mold the school system to the needs of the child is a powerful act of faith in human nature that has a positive effect on both parties.
Becoming willing is the first step in creating change on both a personal and social level. If families and school systems are willing to draw a bigger circle of acceptance around underachievers, important changes would begin immediately.Unconditional acceptance coupled with providing tools to succeed - emotional, material, and spiritual - is the...