Connection between course information regarding motivation, goals, and self-worth

Today I am exploring the connection between things I read about in my “Motivation in Education” course and “real life”. One of the biggest messages/connections I got out of it, is that personal motivation is affected by culture and personality. There was a lot of information about underachievers, and about goals of mastery or performance goals. My concerns regarding the information and how they relate to my “real life” include the questions “Who decides whether the student is underachieving and how do they make this determination” as well as “How do we determine whether mastery goals are even relevant to the student?”

Motivation is affected by culture and personality

One of the assigned readings opened with the following paragraph:

“Excuses have been a part of the human scene ever since Adam first blamed

Eve and Eve blamed the serpent (Snyder, 1984). In school, as we have seen,

excuses moderate the conflict of classroom values. They allow students to

repackage otherwise questionable actions, like not trying, in a more flattering,

less blameworthy form.” (Covington, 1992)

To me, this is the perfect example, demonstrating my concern that educators need to be more aware of the cultures and personalities of the students they are trying to reach. Many people are not Christian and would not know about Adam and Eve (a tale from the Christian Bible).

Students who come from a non-religious, or other than Christian faith might even feel alienated by having the Christian Bible referred to in a scientific report. Many students who are from backgrounds that are other than white, other than Christian also have cultures that have different values and goals than the “mainstream” society.

Personal Experience of “otherness” and perception of motivation/underachieving

I can still recall with a shiver down my spine and an uncomfortable churning in my stomach, what it was like for me to be a public-school student in 6th grade. My background was that I am bi-racial. My parents consisted of one who was Christian, and one who practiced traditional spirituality. I was raised in the culture of the “non-mainstream” parent until some time after their divorce, at which point I experienced 3 different lifestyles and cultures. The culture of my non-mainstream parent and their family, the blended culture of my other parent, and the mainstream Christian culture of my grandparents on that side.

In 6th grade, my small family moved to California from the Midwest. I was shy and anxious. I had always been shy and anxious, but now I was a new student with no extended family or friends to support me in this foreign situation.

The students reacted to me with curiosity, asking me bluntly about my race. I did not answer, as I felt afraid and did not know what answer might lead to violence or ridicule. I just let them make assumptions.

I had similar difficulty with teachers/administrators. I was raised in a culture that did not allow eye contact with authority figures; proper respect meant keeping eyes cast down when addressing a person in the position of power. I was also taught not to seek attention and to try to “blend in”. I had been raised believing that it is better to listen and wait to form responses. My whole pace of communication with those who were not family was slow and deliberate compared to the way mainstream children communicated with each other and teachers.

I did well on assignments such as reports and projects, I was an advanced reader, and my grades were part of my school records. Work samples were not included in the file that followed me to California. I did not enjoy reading aloud, as that involved exposing my speech impediment and having all in the classroom look at me.

My teachers thought that my stumbling over words meant that I could not read them. I did my homework but did not do any of the extra-credit assignments. I greatly valued my time outdoors and spending time with my pets, I also had lots of chores. Doing more than the basics would have had a huge negative impact on my enjoyment of life.

The teacher did not focus on me and did not challenge me about my work or participation until we had our evaluations for the report card. (Quarterly, I believe). My teacher wrote on the card that I was very intelligent and not fulfilling my potential. After that, the teacher called on me often, even saying “I know you have the answer” and telling the other students how well I did on tests. I was embarrassed by the unwanted attention. I began to not just dislike school, I ended up hating school.

I tested out of school at age 16. I did not return until I was motivated by the need to help my own children, who were having difficulties with public school. I obtained an associates degree, and then kept taking enrichment courses and seminars that were relevant to my life. I did not continue my education for quite some time, then due to circumstances in my life and my personal interests, I went back to get a bachelor’s degree. I attended my classes online, and really enjoyed it. I found a love of higher education and moved to Colorado to attend Graduate School.

I understand my experience with education, my motivation, and my perceived “underachievement” were affected by my culture, my personality, the differences between my culture and personality opposed to the culture and personalities of my teachers, and circumstances of life.

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