The Goal is Excellence: Preparing Students for the Real World.

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Progressivism’s educational philosophy is closely patterned to Pragmatism. Since Progressivism focuses on the whole child and is catered to the student’s needs and interests, this is I think the best (and easiest) method to induce student motivation.

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There are LOTS of ways to capture the student’s attention in a Progressive method. Subjects, topics and teachings are student-centered and connected to everyday life so students closely RELATE to the activities and lessons given. Lifted from my previous Pragmatism blog entry:

“It is said that students are more motivated when they believe that what they learn at school is useful and pertinent to them (present and future) or in the world they live in. To better accentuate the importance of this to the students, teachers can make the students realize that certain skills can help them in dealing with various things related to the whole aspect of their lives. Such skills to be highlighted are their socialthinkingdecision making and problem solving skills.”

In a Progressive school, to create effective student motivation strategies, teachers can develop projects, field trips, problem solving, critical thinking and creative expression to capture the learner’s interest and shape the student’s readiness to face real life situations.

For example, instead of just merely giving the students loads of information, it’s better to INVOLVE them in the lesson. Make them EXPERIENCE it. Let them know the FEELING OF BEING THERE. Require them to SOLVE problems and tasks individually or collaboratively.

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Prepare the students for CAREER SUCCESS AND make them realize that these are vital things that they need to have. Should the student realize the importance of these to his own life, it will be of great interest to him and teachers will be guaranteed that the students will really take it seriously.

Train the learners and hone their skills in writing, speaking, problem solving, time management, honesty, attention to detail, keeping their cool under pressure, initiative, teamwork skills and love of learning.

After college, while I was starting to build my own career and life disposition, I came to realize that there are LOTS of things I SHOULD HAVE learned and prepared for while I was in school. Things that would greatly equip me to be at par with the busy and fast track of career life. When I pursued my career as a Stock Trader, I was minimally prepared at first. Finance, investments, the stock market, mutual funds, bonds… They were all new to me. They were never presented to us well in school. I crawled my way to getting my license and I had to seriously study and equip myself more. Good thing, I’ve had great mentors (thanks sr.aya :D) and Economics was my favourite subject so dealing with the market became quite easy and enjoyable for me. But then I realized, us brokers who are in the field are I think, only a very small percentage out of the whole population who knows how the investment market works. It’s sad to realize that because the market is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY to open doors for financial comfort. When I talk to some people, some clearly don’t know and don’t understand the investment market. On the other hand, some knows it, but doesn’t want to be involved in it and there’s not much I can do except to understand that some are failing to see a wonderful investment opportunity right in their faces. And they just shun it out.

Now, what am I trying to say here?

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Isn’t it that education is claiming that their goal is to prepare the students for the real world? Then, I think to effectively help the students, schools must look at the whole dimension of living and human needs. It’s good that schools already hone the student’s basics to prepare them for the future (reading, writing, speaking, problem solving, etc.) but I think some schools NEGLECT or OVERLOOK some of the most important things students must come across with which is — FINANCIAL LITERACY. Should the schools properly introduce the different ways on how to handle money, finances and businesses, young professionals, adults, citizens or the whole world in general might have a different positive upturn.

Progressivism focuses on the whole child and this includes the learner’s moral development. In addition, let us not forget our mission to produce GOOD PEOPLE. The children today will be the citizens of tomorrow. Some of them will be teachers, some will be workers, some will be lawmakers, some will be defenders of the oppressed, etc. Schools must always remember that good education must produce GOOD PEOPLE. All of the things that will be learned in school will be brought by the child in his/ her growth and will largely contribute to his/ her development of intellect and character. That’s why schools must always uphold the right norm and way of teaching, mentoring and guiding because the formative years of the child is the most crucial stage in the child’s life. If we want good citizens in the future, we must first have good school foundations. Again, internalization of the importance of these concepts makes the student show vigour and interest.

If we really care about our students’ future, then isn’t it just proper to help and educate the young to the NECESSARYthings that they will be facing and needing in the future? Us teachers have already been there, we know it already, we experienced it already. It’s now time to give back what we personally learned, maybe through our own mistakes or in school or through the various people we encounter, etc. But then, we should serve as a guide to the students to aid them in their quest for happiness and in defining and shaping their own future and lives. That is when we will only be assured that we have done our mission; that we have done the right thing.

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Just get it done. – Pragmatism.

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Just get it done.” I was awestruck by this statement when I came across it because it impeccably compressed the whole vast meaning of the core essence of Pragmatism into a simple assertion of just getting things done when we needed to.

It made me realize that this is what we normally adhere to in our daily living especially when we reach the stage of career life. I thought it’s better to religiously train the students in school to have this kind of mantra in their lives to help them in the different dimensions of their present and future living.

Since Pragmatism principally focuses on “doing” and “how one comes to know” rather than mere “remembering and listening”, the above mentioned citation can be easily addressed to the students.

Pragmatism in education is a whole-new-exciting approach. It breaks out from the traditional type of schooling that we are predominantly used to. Education in line with Pragmatism is more concerned with the WHOLE CHILD rather than on the subject matter-content or on the teacher. I think student motivation and vigour can easily be achievedbecause the educational aims and the curriculum are DIRECTED TO THE LEARNER, not on the teacher, nor on the subject matter. Experiences, problem solving and exposures are of great importance in a Pragmatic school environment.

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Pragmatic approach focuses on the whole child rather than on the content or on the teacher.

In strengthening student motivation, teachers can devise interactive activities that would directly cater to the necessary needs and interests of the students. These said needs pertain to the student’s present or future life situations.

It is said that students are more motivated when they believe that what they learn at school is useful and pertinent to them (present and future) or in the world they live in. To better accentuate the importance of this to the students, teachers can make the students realize that certain skills can help them in dealing with various things related to the whole aspect of their lives. Such skills to be highlighted are their social, thinking, decision making and problem solvingskills.

Teachers can come up with interesting tasks that would directly capture the students’ attention like real life problem solving in line with the subject matter and patterned to the student’s interest and needs. So, through this, we hit two birds with one stone. Teachers get to effectively convey their lesson and they will also be sure that they were able to capture the student’s attention. Through this exercise, the teacher is certain that the students successfully acquired/ absorbed the lesson, plainly because students learn best and vividly remember best when they experience something.

Personally, I also distinctly remember and effectively learn when I EXPERIENCE it. Even if a certain incident or part of learning happened a long time ago, I can still vividly remember it well because I’VE GONE THROUGH IT. I’VE BEEN THERE. I’VE DONE THAT. I’VE DEALT WITH IT. So I guess it also applies to everyone as well. Teachers will be guaranteed of the effective delivery of knowledge and the full attention, effort and dedication we teachers badly desire the most from our students will be at long last achieved.

Us teachers are so concerned with the imparting of knowledge and skills to the students but it always boils down to the bottom line concern to help and to care for our students’ welfare, may it be for their present or future. We can also achieve our bottom line concern with the two other “isms” discussed previously. But through the Pragmatic approach, we can help the students in the practicalities side that would aid them most importantly for future life.

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I’ve had a bunch of teachers (mostly in college) that I’ve been ever so thankful for the important lessons they’ve shared and effectively imparted to me. Some of them gave tough projects (during that time I thought that I despise them for giving us tough tasks but I still ended up being thankful because of the effective learning that I had), some gave interesting tasks and lessons, some served as my mentors and friends, and some literally showed love, concern and care for the my betterment. When I pondered on it deeply, I realized that these teachers who became imprinted in my heart gave tasks which are directed to REAL LIFE SITUATIONS and most of them were problem solving, planning and critical thinking tasks. I even remember one professor in college wherein during that time, for the FIRST TIME, I felt that I was really motivated and eager to learn. I always LOOKED FORWARD to his classes. I was EXCITED to attend his lectures and was always THRILLED to know the new activity he’ll give us. THAT’S THE KIND OF MOTIVATION I WANT the students to experience as well. That’s the PERFECT motivational influencer type of professor.

The lessons I learned from their tasks were of great help to me when I reached my career stage. Even after basic ed school, during post graduate studies, at work, when we have workshops, bosses who train us, we learn best when activities and assignments are directed to real life-problem solving-critical thinking applications. We also get motivated and interested more to do these tasks when we know that these tasks are of great importance to us and to the world we live in.

Balance between support and academic demands.

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From the 4th yr. board. One of the wisest things I’ve heard. What we definitely need to know.🙂

I see Realism as a branch which is more inclined to traditional type of schooling. In realism, the school’s primary mission is to ADVANCE HUMAN RATIONALITY. School’s task is primary INTELLECTUAL. Students must be taught well in the core academics. Education and teachers must aid in unleashing the student’s ultimate purpose which is to exercise RATIONAL THOUGHT to:

  • Understand reality better
  • Encourage self-actualization
  • Guide to the proper and perfect use of his highest, defining power which is reason
  • Live according to reason
  • Help in their pursuit for happiness

Teachers must be EXPERTS in their respective subjects. The teacher is the knowledge giver and a good mixer of teaching methodologies/ strategies that would best fit the students. The challenge lies on the teacher because in a realist school, students are expected to give their full focus, attention and effort on what is being taught. While students may have other interests, they are expected to offer their full commitment to learning. That serves as the student’s primary responsibility and the teacher’s challenge.

Tough, isn’t it? It all goes down to the teacher’s accountability of devising different motivational methods and strategies to effectively execute these realism ideals.

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Develop the student’s rational thought.

This is I think one of the hardest challenges a teacher could ever face in line with student motivation. For me, in an Idealist, Pragmatist and Existentialist side, it’s easier to motivate the students. In an Idealist’s perspective, students are directed to their ultimate purpose of spiritual belief. Divine intervention is innate in human beings so student encouragement is easier. On the other hand, in Pragmatism and Existentialism, learning is rooted in the student’s core interests and needs so obviously, erudition is favourable to the children. As compared to Realism, INTELLECTUAL discovery and transmission is the school’s primary task and students are EXPECTED to be committed to their academic studies and must not focus on other interests which may block academic thought. So it’s basically rough on the part of the students since learning the academics are firmly classified as compulsory. How can the teacher effectively motivate the students to learn in a Realist school whole-heartedly, giving their full focus and effort?

To ensure student motivation, one key approach is to know the students’ backgrounds and different vital steps on how to encourage them. In short, KNOW YOUR STUDENTS. Try to not only be a mentor, but also to be a friend to them, not forgetting to draw the line between student-teacher relationship. Through knowing the students, the teacher will be able to concoct of different ways and methods on transmitting lessons depending on the student’s background and situation. Always try to listen to your students on what they have to say and on what they think. Though the curriculum is purely academic and intellectual, DON’T BE ONE. Leave the academic side to the subject matter itself. Stick on the core academic lesson and on the duty of being an expert on the subject matter but try to inject respect, care, consideration and love to the students. Help them to understand better, rather than to merely correct and critique. Being a teacher is being able to help in nurturing the students. Let’s give the students a break. Let’s put ourselves in our students’ shoes. In a traditional school, if all concentration lies on the academics, where is the fun in that? Can you still find room for enjoyment and excitement? Let’s face it. When we were students ourselves before, didn’t we despise pure academic activities also? Pure seriousness? As teachers, try to consider these things that the students are facing. Give the students something to look after to. Through the teacher’s different and special methods in teaching, even in a pure intellectual education, students might find drive and enthusiasm after all.

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Increasing students’ motivation is linked to changing problematic behaviour and increasing positive thoughts.

Also, challenge the students to help them realize their own potential for rationality. Let the students appreciate the importance of rationality to human existence. That living according to reason is our surest guide to our daily and future living.

Help the students develop the essence of having shrewd “common-sense”.  This would aid them in dealing with all dimensions of living – personal, social, economic, political, ethical and aesthetic. (from Gutek’s book) Should the student realize the importance and connection of learning to daily living, the child will surely show interest.

Lastly, assist the student in his pursuit for happiness through developing the practice of self-actualization. Liberate the student in the sense that they must be able to outline their own future based on what they think they are made for (still goes back to using rational thought and discovering their substance-ultimate element). The student must know how to drive his/ her own life for good transformation through learning.

Isn’t it nice and fulfilling to see that students are motivated because of the astounding difference the teacher has caused despite being in a solely intellectual environment?

It is even more fulfilling to know that your students actually enjoyed school and settled to the realization that school journey is indeed a particularly happy one.

Be the change you want to see in this world.

On Idealism principles, certain attributes must be in possession with the teacher.

  • The teacher is expected to be a person upholding culture’s highest values.
  • The teacher must be learned in the subject matter.
  • The teacher must have to the highest degree, a disposition worthy of emulation.
  • The teacher must respect the student’s spiritual nature and character.
  • The teacher must assist the student in realizing his full potential and true essence.

How in the world, in an idealist’s perspective, can the students be effectively motivated in line with the carefully guided principles?

Idealism is not hard to follow. What’s hard is to find a teacher who rightly fits the criterion. But as long as the teacher is open to spiritual awakening and universal truths, everything will suitably follow.

Motivation in an idealist’s viewpoint would be recognizing the student/ individual’s personal beliefs and personality. Then, we start from there. Through respect of the student’s own individuality, the teacher can now somewhat easily delve in to the child’s personal and academic development. Key is to understand the student well. Try to capture the child’s trust and make him realize that his own opinions and concerns count. Help the child to discover his own potential, strengths and talents. Engage the child in challenging and probing truths about life, reality and his ultimate purpose.

As I grew up, I personally had my own self realizations and conclusions as well. Most of these reflections happened in school. Surprisingly, most of these realizations rooted from the idealism principle of Supernatural destiny and self-worth. I began to have deeper insights and recall of these reflections when I attended Fr. O’Donnell’s class about knowing the real truth and essence of life. I then realized more that being able to understand these ideals clearly helps in making us better individuals in front of the society, in our family, in ourselves and in front of God. I thought that if it happened to me, then might as well, it might happen to others too. It became clear to me that making a child or an individual realize his spiritual quintessence plays a major part of changing the person for the better. It motivates the student to be more conscious of his or her own actions and doings. It makes the student more inclined TO BE BETTER because he realizes the presence of God. And through that belief of God’s presence, the student becomes a much better person acting and reasoning according to the Supernatural and to what’s proper. If a child will be able to realize the presence of the universal truth, God and his Supernatural destiny, everything will be according to what’s right. The student will be motivated to do what’s correct and rightful to his surroundings.

Student motivation based on idealism is one of the most important things an educator must consider. A deep realization of God makes it clear to the student that we, human beings have this Supernatural being inside us that we should take care of and thus gives us essence. If these principles of rationale will be emphasized to the child (and will be effective in that sense), it will be somewhat easy for us to effect well-rounded individuals. Remember that everything that is good is attributed to God. Should the child realize that there is a God, everything will eventually fall right into place because this child will be enlightened, hence, will let him come to the realization that he has found his purpose in life which is God.

Having said, I just want to go down to my end point of clarifying that I think students will be motivated if they realize their own potential, talents and essence. They will be driven more if they know that these things learned in school will be important and useful to them and in the world they live in. It now goes down to the conclusion that the teacher must BRING OUT THE BEST from the students. Should this be created, positive and favourable outcomes in student interest will be achieved.

Sharing: Excerpt from “Motivating Students to Learn”

Before I start off, I would like to add this short statement I read from the Learning Links pdf file entitled “Motivating Students to Learn”. www.learninglinks.org.au

This is a very beautiful and profound article that helped me widen my grasp on the issue of student motivation. I pasted my favorite excerpt from the article. Here goes..

“A motivated student is one who has the energy and drive to learn, work effectively and achieve at school. Motivation plays a key role in a student’s interest, engagement and enjoyment in school and associated tasks such as homework and study. Motivation also underpins a student’s achievement. As they move through their school years, very few students can succeed on sheer talent alone. SUCCESS ALSO TAKES DRIVE AND COMMITMENT.

 When students are motivated they tend to get better marks at school, work more effectively on difficult schoolwork, make the most of their abilities, behave well and enjoy school.

 On the other hand, if a student is not motivated to learn, they may become disruptive, apply minimal effort and as a result are more likely to perform poorly. In more extreme cases a lack of interest and achievement may lead to truancy and dropping out of school. Moreover, the journey through school may not be a particularly happy one”.

 That is just a short cut on the article I read. But then, it made me realize that huge pressure is weighted on the teacher. The real question to us educators is: How can we really effectively achieve the said motivated attitudes on our students? What are the key measures that we must consider?

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Cramming – Surefire sign of a lack of motivation.