No wonder, everyone I surmise has got a story of demotivation to tell. I used to issue a modest school magazine with a view to rubbing up the writing skill of interested learners. Seven issues had no sooner come to light when a deceptive blow occurred. I showed a copy of the magazine in question to a ‘supervisor’, I’m afraid, who has never marked me or written a single report, yet surprisingly enough said ‘Oh it’s of no import’ and vanished!! How would a teacher subject to mountains of demotivation motivate unmotivated students?! How would a supervisor lacking the spirit of motivation motivate teachers to keep giving unremittingly?
As a matter of fact, only practitioners whose noses and eyes are stuffed with chalk dust and who actually practise whatever new and beneficial they have come across in literature can really preach about teaching and learning; what they bring into light is taken right from the womb of practice and the furnace of day-to-day interaction with sundry learners. Neither those who left classrooms years ago nor scholars who theorize at their desks in offices can draw a fine picture. Action research and constant notes taken in voluminous journals fit together to bring about a perfect job.
As I promised in my previous article: Motivation Missing, I shall pen a host of multipliers or maximisers of motivation and a number of diminishers or rather blockers of motivation.
Motivation increases as long as we
■ Give the positive feedback at the apposite time.
■ Call learners by their names, not least the names they like.
■ Plan our lessons because planning is quite necessary and a time-saving road map and not because someone may come at any time and ask for it.
■ Vary activities and suit them to the levels of learners.
■ enhance the use of ICT.
■ Pay attention to multiple intelligences and different learning styles.
■ tolerate for vagueness and grade the input.
■ use visual aids such as stick figures, graphic organisers and the like.
■ use paralanguage, miming and gestures.
■ encourage learners to engage in project work and keep portfolios.
■ stress the paramount role of group work and pair work according as the class number is reasonable!
■ administer well-designed quizzes and tests now and then, so that learners try to recoup for their low grades or marks.
Motivation, contrarily, decreases so long as we:
■ use vituperative and discriminating remarks or terms.
■ rely on the blackboard as the sole teaching material.
■ teach with the same plan designed for ex-learners a couple of years ago.
■ use very easy quizzes with no reliance on tables of specifications and with no observance of test criteria.
■ spoonfeed learners and infuse them with information to regurgitate the day of the summative test.
■ do not correct quizzes with students or sometimes mark copies without even correcting them!
■ teach in a school lacking facilities, a school where dense dust covers computers and internet connection is only in the principal’s office!
■ we do not practise in class what we preach, yet show off, on the day of pedagogical meetings with colleagues.
■ we put all learners, so to say, on the same basket, overlooking the fact that there are kinetic, visual and auditory learners.
■ gloss over the role of conversation and communication.
■ do not try to reduce the teacher’s talking time, and overuse the mother tongue as a language of instruction.
Teachers themselves are in turn utterly demotivated when they are not given the worth they deserve either from society in general or from learners; when they are denied promotion and admittance and are judged on impression and appearance. They fall into a sort of languor and feel blue when they are the topic idea of cafe gatherings and banquets; the protagonists of anecdotes woven by every sick Tom Dick and Harry; the heroes of closefistedness who amass wealth and make fortunes maybe more than kings and high-powered people!
Teachers have normally to be highly rewarded symbolically and financially, especially those working in far-flung areas. Herzberg said the salary is but a hygiene factor; it’s not a real motivator, yet I’m afraid he is wrong as many people with different jobs whom he taught are paid more than he is!
Learners are likewise unmotivated, for they are scapegoats of the educational system, victims of the school map; that is, classrooms have to be emptied for others to learn as success is based on rates, not on merit.
Supervisors who are not cheats, who have not resigned before retirement, who do their best to upgrade themselves and help teachers specially novice ones, are also unmotivated because they are assigned so many things not germane to their job and catapulted to remote areas to take charge of numerous teachers.
The sheer absence of motivation in the teaching learning environment is a stark reality that many pretend not to eye. Nonetheless, motivation should not be mere ink on paper; it ought to be tangible and realisable; everyone has to take part, for one hand fails to applaud!