Motivation can come from many sources. People can be motivated by fear. They can also be motivated by money. Competition can also motivate. True motivation, however, comes from doing what one loves to do.

The love of teaching children is the purest form of motivation in education today. Leadership should recognize that quality in teachers and be wary of anything that destroys that desire.

As I come to the close of thirty years of teaching, I find myself having the same thoughts that so many of my veteran colleagues conveyed to me throughout the years. “It is not the love of teaching that burns out in a teacher, it is all the other stuff.” Sad to say, but I have to agree.

Teaching used to be about children. It has become about proving ourselves. Competition against some standard has become more important than guiding children to adulthood. It once was enough that a child walked out of class feeling like they learned something. Today they have never learned enough.

When children play a game they never can win, they stop playing. Many teaching staffs today become apathetic and passive aggressive because they feel like they can never do enough. Constant pressure to “raise the bar” has led some educators to adopt a “bunker mentality”, hiding from administrative mandates. More and more is added to the plate with nothing ever being taken off. Good teachers know in their hearts that the most important focus of their job is to help students reach their potential. When students reach their potential that should be enough.

It used to be that the greatest goal of education was a happy student. Now it is a test score. We have become so focused on proving ourselves to people who don’t really matter to our kids that we have forgotten our kids who should really matter most.

In our attempt to dot every “I” and cross every “T”, we are creating institutions instead of communities. If we are going to take the humanity out of education then we need to replace teachers with computers and relationships with ipods. I believe in our ever increasing high tech world, students are looking for that human spirit to connect with.

Education is not about competition, it is about nurturing children. Children are not only interested in how things work; children are also interested in how life works. That is a lesson they cannot learn from a computer or curriculum. Self worth is only gained through relationships with other human beings. Teachers who love their students instill that worth. When that bond of worth exists learning is enriched.


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