Today we wanted to share some links to great articles about student motivation research and tactics. This information is not just important for teachers, but also for parents who must motivate their kids to stay on task with homework and household contributions. All the articles deal with the idea of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The take-away? Those who intrinsically motivate (achieving for internal reasons and not external rewards) are happier, smarter and better equipped for learning and life.
Waldorf educators follow many guidelines for fostering intrinsic motivation, which are referenced in the studies and articles below. Practices include:
- - De-emphasizing grades
- - Bringing real-life value to topics (think learning fractions by cutting delicious pizza)
- - Supporting and challenging (without overwhelming) students
- - Fostering / respecting individual learning styles
- - Helping students experience autonomy in the classroom
Check out these articles providing more in depth information:
- - This Article from The Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching takes a thorough look at advantages and disadvantages of fostering each type of motivation and then looks at motivation’s effects on learning style and teaching strategy.
- - This Article from Education Week Author and Teacher Larry Ferlazzo highlights six in-depth writings on specific motivation topics such as helping students develop self control and good learning habits.
- - This Article from the On the Cutting Edge Education Resources website gives an overview of motivation styles and a list of tactics for engaging students.
- - This Article in Business Psychology is a research study done on the effects of motivating employees and the results ring just as true for students.
Here is another great article about what fairy tales can teach the young and the old. James Parson’s piece explores the lessons from educationalist and psychologist, Dr Bruno Bettelheim, who, “suggests that children need dark fairy stories to deal with their inner turmoil and fears about life and death.” Parson’s discusses why fairy tales give insights into existential questions, independent living, assurance, evil, and happy futures.
For an even deeper dive into the psychological underpinnings and importance of fairy tales, visit, http://www.endicott-studio.com, where the writings of Terri Windling, in particular, shed light on topics like orphaned heroes and transformations in these stories.
Here is an example of her keen insight on the predominance of orphaned children in folk tales.
“The orphaned hero is not, however, a mere fantasy cliché; it’s a mythic archetype, springing from some of the oldest stories of the world.
… The heroism of fairy tale orphans lies in their ability to survive and transform their fate, and to outwit those who would do them harm without losing their lives, their souls, or their humanity in the process.
… Calamity thus has a function in these tales: it propels the first hard step onto the road that will lead (after certain tests and trials) to personal and worldly transformation, pushing the hero out of childhood and towards a new adult life (the latter often symbolized by marriage at the story’s end).
… For young readers, there is a distinct brand of pleasure in inhabiting the skin of the orphan hero, tasting both the joys and terrors of operating as a fully independent being without the protective cushion (or burden, depending on the child’s circumstance) of parents standing between them and the wide, wide world beyond.
Read many more of Ms. Windling’s writings about fairy tales HERE.
Waldorf educators are not alone in their call for developmentally appropriate learning in early elementary education. The month of May adds another study on the pile of research supporting the benefits to delaying overzealous academics in early childhood.
This report from New Zealand, covered by The Telegraph, says, “Pupils kept out of formal schooling until the age of seven perform just as well those subjected to normal lessons at five… In some assessments of reading skills, those with a later start actually overtook their peers by the age of 10, figures show.”
This study release comes close on the heels of recommendations by Dr Richard House, a senior lecturer at Roehampton University’s Research Centre for Therapeutic Education, to delay formal schooling for bright kids.
This article summarizes his recommendations, saying, “…gifted pupils from relatively affluent backgrounds suffered the most from being pushed ‘too far, too fast.’ He quoted a major US study – carried out over eight decades – that showed children’s ‘run-away intellect’ actually benefited from being slowed down in the early years, allowing them to develop naturally.”
The Harvard Education Letter harps on these issues as well. The results from this study, answer these questions: “Have kids gotten smarter? Can they learn things sooner? What effect has modern culture had on child development? The surprising answers—no, no, and none.”
This prompted Jerlean E. Daniel, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, to say: “Above all, young children need time—time to manipulate objects and ideas, time to make the information their own,” says Daniel. The Gesell study, she says, “is a resource to people who want to find greater balance in kindergarten.”
Why find greater balance? Because, as the Harvard Education Letter also reports, there are serious concerns about the current state of the early education environment, including:
– A narrow range of literacy and math skills
– Eliminated recess or physical education
– Scripted curricula
This piece says these have caused, “Several prominent early childhood organizations [to issue] reports on the importance of incorporating developmentally appropriate practice into elementary school classrooms, based on what research has confirmed about early learning.”
We all suffer in a world of budget cuts, but it seems children suffer a real injustice when it comes to trimming expenses in education. Although music has been proven to boost spatial reasoning, improve language skills, protect brain function, and help children pay attention, it is also usually the first thing to go when money gets tight.
At Spring Garden, we value music and the arts as essential to society and intelligence. That’s why music permeates every child’s school experience each day through singing, learning musical notation, performances, and instruction on multiple musical instruments that all children receive.
While music is taught specifically by the subject teacher, it is also integrated into the teaching of arithmetic, geography, history, literature and science by the Main Lesson teacher.
The music teacher will instruct young students in choral music, and pentatonic and diatonic recorder sessions. Older students are taught orchestral and symphonic music, and music reading and notation. They are also given stringed instruments to play in the school orchestra, encouraged to pursue private instruction, and then eventually offered opportunities to learn woodwinds and brass.
- Scientific studies show screen time causes negative effects with few exceptions.
- The Waldorf Method of teaching also implements the spacing effect — the concept that information that is spaced over time is better remembered than the same amount of information massed together. Waldorf educators believe that screen time stimuli interrupts this learning process.
1) Screen Time Studies:
Sleep and Aggression -
- - Screen time for children under 3 is linked to irregular sleep patterns and delayed language acquisition (2005 Pediatrics).
- - Direct exposure to TV and overall household viewing are associated with increased early childhood aggression. (2009 Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.).
- - Children with 2 or more hours of daily screen time are more likely to have increased psychological difficulties, including hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, as well as difficulties with peers. (2010 Pediatrics)
Lower Academic Achievement -
- - Toddler screen time is also associated with problems in later childhood, including lower math and school achievement, reduced physical activity, victimization by classmates (2010 Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine)
- - Adolescents who watch 3 or more hours of television daily are at especially high risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades, and long-term academic failure. (2007 Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine)
Additional Statistics -
- Kids and Screens Fact Sheet
- Media Violence Facts & Statistics
- Advertising Exposure & Industry Statistics
2) The Three Day Rhythm Curriculum
Waldorf is unique in that students are not immediately quizzed on information, but are given time to process and digest the new information within a three day cycle. This is known as the spacing effect or the distributed learning method.
In 1988, psychologist Frank Dempster said that the spacing effect is “one of the most remarkable phenomena to emerge from laboratory research on learning.” Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult to scientifically study for long term learning efficacy.
However, this nine-year study looked at long term effects of this approach to learning in foreign languages and found that “both the amount of relearning session and the number of days in between each session have a major impact on retention.”
Also a 2007 laboratory study of animal neurons found this approach to learning encouraged neural development and retention. “Data indicate that learning over an extended period of time induces a more persistent memory, which then relates to the number of cells that reside in the hippocampus.”
Of course, we at Waldorf see the affect of this approach first hand with our students and the results of it in our inspiring alumni.
The Socratic Method, in teaching, aims to increase understanding and critical thinking skills through inquiry. Memorized facts are soon forgotten. Children learn best by asking questions spawned from genuine interest.
This goes against an assumption some have about the purpose of schooling. Waldorf educators believe that the purpose of education is NOT to instruct students.
Surprised? Consider this except from the whitepaper: Assessment without High-Stakes Testing: Protecting Childhood and the Purpose of School.
“The teachers’ task is not to convey what they know to their unknowing students, then confirm the efficacy of this transaction by testing the students’ ability to remember––or at least recognize–– what they have received. … A teacher’s task is … to draw out students’ nascent capacities.
Herein lies the fundamental difference between in-struction, which in its etymological origins means to pour stones (Latin structus) into an empty vessel, and e-ducation, which in its origins means to lead or draw (Latin ducere) forth or out (Latin e-). When they instruct, teachers insert what they know into the empty vessel of the student who knows not. By contrast, when they educate, teachers draw forth from a student what he or she in some sense already knows, whether implicitly or explicitly. Like Socrates in Plato’s dialogue Meno, the teacher coaxes from the students––with the help of skillful leading questions–– responses that help them figure out the lesson for themselves, instead of waiting for the teacher to supply it.”
What would using the Socratic method look like in the classroom? Here’s one example.
During a science lesson, the teacher blows up a balloon by combining baking soda and vinegar. Instead of telling the class that an endothermic reaction produced CO2, the teacher asks them: What happened here? Who has an idea? The teacher can then lead the inquires and debates between students. Then the teacher might have a few students hold the balloon and ask: What do you notice about it? Then the teacher can guide students inquiries about the implications of its temperature and weight.
In this way, together as a class, they take the time to truly learn the why and how of this experiential science.