The life of a teenager seems to change daily.
One minute a teen seems interested in a new sport, topic in school, or type of music, only to completely shift gears the next. Constantly exposed to new ideas, social situations, and people, teenagers work to develop their personalities and interests during this time of great change.
Before their teenage years, these adolescents focused on school, play, and gaining approval from their parents. But now, those former goals are replaced with a desire for independence, as teenagers work toward becoming young adults.
During adolescence, teenagers develop emotionally, cognitively, and physically. These changes aren’t without challenges, but thankfully, education professionals, family members, counselors, and psychologists are available to help the teens navigate this difficult period.
Parents and teachers of teenagers might recognize this phrase: “I’m bored.”
Many teenagers find class and school work “unexciting” or “pointless”, and report they don’t feel motivated or challenged by the material. According to “The Silent Epidemic,” a report from Civic Enterprises, most students drop out of school because they are “uninterested” in the material.
The report, which examined high school drop outs from 25 different cities in the United States, found that nearly 69% of students said they felt unmotivated to do schoolwork.
And of the students who dropped out of school, most were not failing students. In fact, many of the students had C averages or better, and indicated that if they had felt like it, they could have graduated from high school without much trouble.
For these students, lack of motivation was the primary reason they didn’t finish school. Generally, there are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is characterized by outside forces that motivate individuals to accomplish tasks. Teachers who motivate students extrinsically essentially offer rewards for harder work or good grades. For example, a teacher might offer candy or extra credit for finishing optional homework to motivate a student to work harder.
Extrinsic motivation has the advantage of producing quick behavior changes in the student, but typically, these changes are temporary and last only as long as the reward is available. Some extrinsically motivated students are only learning material to earn the reward, and might not fully absorb the new information.
Teachers who wish their students to truly feel motivated must learn how to motivate students intrinsically. Intrinsic motivation is characterized by fascination with a subject, and learning something for the sense of accomplishment it provides.
If a student is consistently unmotivated and unwilling to put effort into activities, it might indicate the student is depressed. Teachers and other educators must become aware of the signs of depression and help that student to seek treatment.
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