Students do not like to be told what to do, but instead are motivated by getting what they want. There are no tricks, no manipulations, or deals that work endlessly. As teachers, we need to use the interests of students, their passions and desires, to show how our curricula can relate to their everyday life. Students want to be important, great and have a true desire to succeed. I believe it is the responsibility of the education system to show every student that this is a real and attainable possibility.
William James said “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. As I reflect back into my classes, I believe I have failed my students on this. Lately, I have been showing how I appreciate every single student. From the ability to use calculus on Call of Duty to being able to draw a line graph, each student must feel as they are contributing to my class in a specific and identifiable way. Too many classes, in the past, I stood at the front of the class, lectured only in a way a mathematical mind would understand, and then sat at my desk worked. This had to change!
What happens when people don’t feel appreciated enough?
I have seen this too many times. Some call it disobedience or insubordination, but it might just be the student saying “Look at what I can do!”. In some cases, people have actually gone insane to allow them to live in a world of their own creation. Carnegie said, “Imagine what miracle you and I can achieve by giving people honest appreciation this side of insanity”
Two years ago, I had a student in my class who was truly bored and wanted to be challenged beyond the scope of the course. What I saw was a boy in the back of the class who would rather play on his calculator drawing weird diagrams than pay attention to me. Days went on where I would walk to the back of the room and delete all his graphs to keep him on task. I am sickened, now, by my actions! I was criticizing his amazing ability to transform math into art. There is even more disgust; this student saw me as his “math guru”. I was condemning a student, who idolized me, on his math ability.
Charles Schwab stated:
“There is nothing else so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticize any-one. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and laving in my praise. I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism”
Lately, I have taken this quote to heart and truly been communicating my appreciation of students daily. Students crave appreciation as they would crave food, or air. It would be outrageous for a teacher to deny a student appreciation for an entire semester, as it would be to deny them a plate of food.