Sharing & Learning Together

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Calling all 'silent' PPSE bloggers...

Hello everyone!

There is a fantastic discussion raging here - on the issue of extrinsic "rewards" and "punishments" (or "R & P" as Dharma has aptly abbreviated the terms!) that I think we all stand to benefit from. It's great how the 'comments' section take on a discussion-like quality.

Unfortunately, this group blog seems to have very few active PPSE members. There is a conspicuous absence of our elem. school PPSEites - Gudrun, Geeta, Christina, Kalpana - who I'm sure face several situations on a daily basis where they're faced with motivating kids who're not listening or paying attention or whatever. Would love to hear your thoughts on these issues, and how you are tackling them in Elem. school.

Anupama, Amarnathan, Srini, Gulab, Anitha, Hema, Vijaya, Uday, Mahesh - I do hope you all are also visiting this space regularly. We cannot tell since we don't see any blog entries or comments coming from you. Do drop a comment sometime...


  • Insufficient motivation could be caused by fear of punishment, lack of interest, lack of competition, laziness or defeatism. Trying to spark off intrinsic motivation within such a student is challenging. But we teachers need to be alert and look for students who might need it.

    As a child I had always wanted to do everything to the best of my ability. I was blessed with wonderful parents and exceptional teachers who kept me motivated.

    I recall 2 incidents very clearly which have been etched in my mind. As a child I had always been good at sports and the desire to be on the school team was motivation enough to give it my best shot.

    The second incident was that once I had been humiliated in class by a second language teacher. Just the need to prove her wrong motivated me to such an extent that I ended up securing the highest grade for that subject.

    By Blogger Geeta Kamat, at 10:18 AM  

  • I agree with all the reasons listed for insufficient motivation by Geeta except one- lack of competition. I think that competition is extrinsic motivation. Learning in buddy system is healthy,so is group work. Competition can make people work, achieve results, but i reallly wonder if it makes anyone happy. People become threatened, insecure and that can lead to other problems. Competition is like antibiotic. It is a poison.
    We do need to use it sometimes but we have to use it judiciously - at the right time, in the right doses and work on the side effefcts, if any.

    By Blogger Neela Tatu, at 11:51 PM  

  • Neela, by lack of competition I mean that when there is none the student could get complacent or over confident about himself and may not feel the need to achieve the next level which he could be capable of.

    By Blogger Geeta Kamat, at 9:03 AM  

  • Geeta,it'sstrange isn't it?Inmy case humliation by a teacher led to a feeling that I would never be good at music.It worked in reversein your case.I guess this is true in the case of all children.Rewards and punishment do not have the same effect on all children.As Neela has pointed out, it must be used judiciously,with in depth understanding of what the child's needs are and how he reacts to 'warm'or 'cool'feedback. I means waiting and watching for reactions, comments and putting it all together to decide on the apt treatment for the individual child.

    By Blogger Raji Nair, at 6:46 PM  

  • True, Raji. I think the teacher needs to be able to judge the type of children they are handling and accordingly give responses. It might be possible many times but we also need to consider the teacher's stress factor.
    What worked for me in a positive manner would not always work in all cases such as in your case. And the long lasting effect it has could be shattering. In my case though I took it as a challenge it has left a scar.

    By Blogger Geeta Kamat, at 8:41 PM  

  • Gosh! These discussions are bringing back such memories - mostly of the unpleasant instances when I was "punished" - they are rare, few and far between. I remember few things from when I was 8 in 3rd grade and remember practically nothing from that year in school except for the one time when I was slapped across the cheek by Mrs. Massey for making a mistake in my cross-stitch needle work!!!

    I love cross-stitch, though :) - have done some very intricate patterns over the years, and even today, I'll grab any opportunity to start a project!!! Go figure :)

    (It may of course have to do with the fact that my mother is great at all kinds of needle work and she and I have shared this love for it over the years...guess Mrs. Massey's slap stood no chance in the face of such love!)

    By Blogger Shuchi Grover, at 9:27 PM  

  • Right, Shuchi. The decisions that students make depend a lot on how much they like or dislike the concerned subject and whether they choose to be motivated by the teacher's actions.

    By Blogger Geeta Kamat, at 6:08 AM  

  • Children need constant motivation. This is what I believe atleast in the elem. section. All children(some adults too)function at thier best only when they are motivated and at the end of the motivation there has to be a carrot. How else can you make them feel appriciated?
    As I was just reading the above discussions I too began to go down memory lane. I do agree with Raji on the humiliation bit. As far as I can remember I ws hopeless in Math in school and it just so happened that year after year I believed that I had horrors for Math teachers but now as an adult and a teacher my self I think back and I saw them as 'horrors' only because I was so bad at Math and got pulled up all the time for not being able to understand concepts. Who in those days had remedial teachers! You were labled dull etc. So that aversion to the subject just stayed on. Till date I will teach Math to my class and thats the only association I will have with Math and no more. Don't ask me how much taxes Iam paying and other number related questions. That is when I cry for help and my banker husband comes to my rescue! I have such a dislike for the subject that I dont even wish to understand the accounts of daily life.
    Some children have motivation flowing along with their blood in their body and are motivated to do any and everything. Then there those who get kick started only when motivated and are able to see a rainbow at the end.
    Even as adults how many of us function on such a stratergy? Atleast I do. That when I feel that the child in me is still alive!

    By Blogger christina, at 8:11 AM  

  • OK Shuchi as you can see I am not silent any more I just needed that kick start MOTIVATION! Is there a carrot at the end of this?

    By Blogger christina, at 8:12 AM  

  • Of course there is, Christina - except that this carrot is of the "intrinsic" variety :-)

    By Blogger Shuchi Grover, at 7:57 AM  

  • Hi! Shuchi I am not so clear on what you mean by inteinsic could you please explain. Anyone out there sos!

    By Blogger christina, at 7:24 AM  

  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards/punishments. Well i feel Intrinsic motivation will definetely weigh more. Going back 8 years down the lane , i became Mrs. Uday when i was a fresh post graduate. My co-sister who also happened to be a post graduate happened to be working as a teacher. So naturally i was motivated and influnced to become a teacher. In fact I was compared to her and literally pushed into trying out the option. But I who had a flair for teaching did not opt for it inspite of so much coaxing and comparing. I continued working as a research assisstant at IISc. Time rolled by after my son was 3 and a half, I applied to some schools with a lot of apprehension. When i started teaching here I thought my intrinsic appeal to be a teacher was revived, and here iam enjoying teaching in a school.
    I also agree with geetha that insufficient motivation can be due to lack of interest, or fear of failure.
    Though i teach math, i can not understand or calculte tax for heaven's sake. More so when my husband teaches me about it and it goes above my head. And I don't care about it. Well i prefer to be away from it even if my husband says a hundred times that i don't understand such a simple thing! i don't feel an innate urge to know about it.

    By Blogger kalpanau, at 2:05 AM  

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