web analytics
July 2, 2015 / 15 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Motivating The Frustrated Learner

Schonfeld-logo1

“It’s not my job,” she said.

Many years ago, while training a new teacher, I discussed the idea of motivating students. She interrupted me by saying, “Mrs. Schonfeld, I believe that my job as a teacher is to deliver the information to the students. I will teach them phonics, how to spell, and how to add and subtract. If they want to learn, they will pay attention and they will learn. If they aren’t interested in learning, they can sit quietly or stare at the window. That’s not my job.”

“Your job is to give information,” I said, “but there are a lot of reasons why children don’t pay attention. It isn’t always about whether they ‘want’ to. Maybe they are afraid of failure, maybe they have learning disorders. As a teacher, you can motivate and inspire them to achieve.”

“It’s not my job. I’m there to teach. Not to cheerlead,” she told me.

While I understood this young woman’s frustration with this added component to her job, in reality, there are many reasons why children might seem to not want to learn. As teachers and parents, it is our job to figure out how to motivate them towards excellence.

Motivation Myths

It’s impossible to motivate him! The child who sleeps in class or takes out other homework is not unmotivated to learn. Rather, he is motivated to sleep or take out homework. Everyone is motivated in some way – all of our actions stem from some sort of motivation. Therefore, as parents or teachers, we have to get to the heart of that action and devise a strategy to steer the motivation in our direction.

Competition motivates. Many educators believe that competition motivates children to do their best. However, research has shown that people only participate in competitions that they believe they have a chance of winning. In reality, the best motivating competition is competition with ourselves. Helping students recognize their potential and then surpass it, is the best way to ensure success.

He’s motivated one day and unmotivated the next. Think about motivation for school as a relationship between a parent and a child. You love your child but acknowledge that some days are more difficult than others. Therefore, accept the days that are not as great and brainstorm ideas to move forward.

Punishment is great motivation. Punishment is only effective during the time that the punishment exists. If there is no longer a punishment, the motivation vanishes. Therefore, punishment is not a long-term solution. Instead, children need to find their own inspiration.

Learned Helplessness

Be careful, though, because not all seemingly unmotivated children are attempting to control their surroundings; there are some children who appear to be unmotivated but in reality are suffering from an undiagnosed learning disability.

Many times, children with learning disabilities struggle and receive little positive feedback from their teachers and parents. Sometimes they are misunderstood and labeled as “lazy,” “slow,” or “unmotivated” and end up feeling shame and frustration.

Research at the University of Iowa and UCLA indicates that as many as 70% of children with LD suffer from poor self-esteem. Dr. Marshall Raskind, an expert in the field of learning disabilities, says, “Over time, children with LD may just stop trying, entering a state of ‘learned helplessness’ where they see little connection between their efforts and ultimate outcomes. ‘Why bother?’ they may ask, ‘No matter how hard I try, I always end up failing.'”

Before I address how to combat these negative feelings, it is important to understand just what self-esteem is. People with self-esteem have a strong sense of their own worth, which leads them to stand up for themselves when others attempt to put them down. Those with strong self-esteem also tend to express their feelings freely, enabling them to establish long lasting friendships.

Therefore, when you ask if there is a connection between your son’s learning disability and his social skills, the answer is probably “yes.” Other people’s reactions to your son’s learning disability might have caused him to feel badly about his self-worth. This in turn could make him hesitant to stand up for himself (a target for bullies) and also cautious when it comes to opening up to other people (an inability to maintain long-term friendships).

What can you do to help your son gain self-esteem and also make friends? The first thing you can do is help him understand that his learning disability does not make him stupid or slow. Tell him about Albert Einstein’s struggles in grade school and Beethoven’s difficulties with hearing loss. They turned their weaknesses into strengths.

Then, you can look for his strengths. Is he really creative? Athletic? Generous? Whatever his strength is, make the most of it. Sign him up for an after school activity that he will excel in. This will not only help him gain confidence, it will also introduce him to children his own age who share his passion. This way, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone – he will gain self-esteem, which will lead to motivation.

Perhaps the most important idea that I can leave parents with is that no child is truly unmotivated. It’s simply a matter of decoding the child’s behavior and figuring out the best way to help him see his true potential.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Motivating The Frustrated Learner”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
ISIS leads captured Egyptian Copts in death march.
Analysis: ISIS Will Go Down to Defeat in Egypt
Latest Sections Stories

Anna Henriques, who hopes to one day head back to Jamaica, says, “Rabbi Raskin must be willing to respect what exists in Jamaica. The way to the future is to gently bring in the traditions of the past and at the same time embrace the idiosyncrasies of the Jamaican people.”

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.

Emmer-052915-History

It may be that seeking to connect with the past is rooted in the impermanence and impersonality of modern life.

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

Everyone in the kehilla can get involved, she added, and mothers can network with each other.

On her first ever trip to Israel last week, popular radio talk-show personality and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, whose spirited broadcasts regularly attract millions of listeners across North America, paid a visit to OneFamily headquarters in Jerusalem in order to learn more about the physical and emotional challenges faced by victims of terror in […]

With the famous Touro Synagogue, a variety of mansions, each with its own distinct personality, as well as the beautiful coast, Rhode Island makes for an excellent vacation spot.

To avoid all this waste and unnecessary anxiety, let’s break the task down step by step and tackle each one at a time.

While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).

For those who couldn’t go off base, a personal parcel was priceless in its ability to convey a feeling of home.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

We never cease to be students, even when we are no longer in school. Therefore, everyone can learn from these elements of thought.

Schonfeld-logo1

The warm parenting style indicates to children, “I love you and will take care of you” and the firm parenting style lets children know, “I expect something from you.”

When we are faced with danger, our body goes into what scientists call “fight or flight” mode.

This doesn’t mean that anyone who occasionally has a piece of chocolate as a pick-me-up is an emotional eater.

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward.

While indecision can stop you in your tracks, it’s important to point out that it’s not always bad.

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/motivating-the-frustrated-learner/2013/11/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: