Sunday, October 7, 2012

This thing called motivation

When i was in primary school, i wasn't just an average-grade student. I was a borderline student. I remember year after year, i would worry about passing & being promoted up to the next level. I was a struggling student.
My entire primary school went by in a blur. I attended school because i was told to. I don't know what i was learning and i don't even recall studying for the examinations! Came PSLE, i got, yes you guessed it, borderline grades. It was so borderline that i could pass to the Secondary school but had to be posted into 'Normal' stream (five years course). I recall my mother scolding me, me crying and my sister comforting me.
Somehow, i woke up from my deep (academic) slumber in secondary school. Somehow, grades became very important to me. Somehow, i needed to prove to my uncles, family, more importantly-myself, that i am not that 'stupid' and i can be as smart as i want myself to be.  My grades shot up and i was posted to the express stream (four years course) just after 6 months. Since then, it was happily ever after and i made it into University.
My own schooling journey taught me about the one thing that is important in getting good grades- self motivation. In primary school, i didn't see the point of studying or getting good grades. My parents didn't push me either. In secondary school & all the way up, my parents were equally hands off. But i somehow got spurred and this little potion called motivation was sprinkled all over me. I had zero tuition. I earn my way up to good grades all through my own hard work.
This made me wonder, instead of pushing our children to study hard,  would it not be easier if the child has self motivation to do so? Instead of us nagging them to revise, they do it on their own accord? Of course, the million dollar question is, how to motivate a child? Well, i am no expert. I don't have a clue either. But, maybe just maybe, if we take a hands off approach, like what my parents did? As in, passing the sole responsibility of getting the grades entirely on our children. Let them choose the path they want and bear the consequences themselves. If they do well, it is all credit to them. If they fail, perhaps they will wake up from their slumber and be driven to do better the next time, like i did , albeit that i was late (but hey, i did well, didn't i)?
It would sure take an extremely radical parent to do that though. I'll be the first to admit, i am not that parent! :P
That said, there are certain tasks (though small) that i give my son sole responsibility  & i take a total hands off approach. And, truth be told, i do see positive effects trickling in. For instance, i don't pack his school bag at all. It his daily responsibility to check his own bag and i don't even do a double check for him. Everyday, he makes sure that all his items are in his bag. I think he is motivated to do because he gets really upset if he doesn't bring the needful items to school. I really don't have to nag at him to pack his bag. Neither are there days where he forgets to pack something. See- the beauty of motivation. On a separate note, i was once informed to pack a shirt for an activity. He came home from school and the shirt was still in the bag and so i asked why. Apparently, he had already packed one himself and handed to the teacher (his teacher must have reminded the class) . I was very pleased and proud of his Independence to say the least (although he packed a rag instead and didn't tell me! LOL).
Ok ok, it is a small example as compared to taking a hands off approach on our children's studies. But what I'm saying is, perhaps, it works? I don't know. Would you dare take this approach? It would be really hard wouldn't it?

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