Skip to comments.K-12: Dear Abby, Here Are The Two Big Reasons Why Kids Lack Motivation
Posted on 11/10/2018 4:25:35 PM PST by BruceDeitrickPrice
A mother in Chicago wrote for help: Dear Abby: All of my grown children are underachievers. When contemporaries talk about their children getting jobs, getting married, having kids, going on vacation, buying a house/car, I have nothing to contribute. My children do not have lives; they work low-paying jobs and scrape by. Worse, they have no ambition to do better.
Dear Abby responded with little insight: Your children are adults. If they were motivated, they would be doing more with their lives than scraping by. Be glad they are independent and have good relationships with each otherits a plus, and continue living your life.
Dear Abby has nothing to say about the curious mysteries of absent ambition and missing motivation. She, and the unhappy mother, should consider the possibility that major factors have so far been ignored in this Q&A.
What could be more devastating to a child than pervasive, day-by-day failure at school? Most pundits agree that public schools do a terrible job on the basics and essentials, particularly reading. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tracks fourth and eighth graders, consistently reports that two-thirds of American kids are below proficient. This causes a crippling slowdown in every direction. How can they learn history, geography, science, literature, or anything else if they can hardly read at all?
Its a safe bet that the kids and adults scraping by are not good readers. We hear the terms illiterate, functionally illiterate, struggling, poor readers, and such. Point is, they dont read effortlessly; and they cant read for fun. Naturally they have trouble filling out forms and understanding manuals. Wouldnt it be surprising if these kids were motivated? Its much simpler to drop out, hang with your friends, and smoke a joint.
The real questions are: why do our schools do such a poor job; and how do they get away with this? Rudolf Flesch answered the first question 65 years ago in Why Johnny Cant Read. He said the problem is obvious: we use the wrong method (sight-words); we should use phonics.
But what about the second question, why is no one concerned with the collateral damage done by inferior methods? Where are the scholars, professors, and scientists who can investigate the impact of dysfunctional education? Isnt it a safe bet that a major side-effect will be declines in motivation and ambition?
American schoolchildren seem to be in double jeopardy. The literacy experts do a lousy job; and then the people who should be checking on these so-called experts do an equally lousy job. Millions of kids cant read and everyone pretends not to notice. There seems to be a conspiracy to use the worst methods then look the other way.
Here is a child therapist who may have as limited a grasp of the problems as Dear Abby: I am often told, Hes not motivated. All he wants to do is watch television or play video games. Parents urgently ask, Why doesnt he put more effort into his schoolwork? Why doesnt he care? Many parents believe that their child is lazy....The answer to these questions is almost always, Because he is discouraged. He may also be anxious or angry, and he is stuck in this bad mood..
Another professor inspired this headline: Research Increasingly Finds More Screen Time Makes Kids Depressed And Illiterate The Atlantic reported on social science research about the effects of young peoples constant phone and computer use. Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.
Here is a better hypothesis: teens who spend more time than average on screen activities will spend less time than average on reading, most likely because they dont know how to do it very well.
Now for the weirdest research of all. An expert claims to prove that too much interest in literacy and academics will hurt a kid! Researchers at the University of Virginia analyzed survey responses from American kindergarten teachers between 1998 and 2010. Almost every dimension that we examined had major shifts over this period towards a heightened focus on academics, and particularly a heightened focus on literacy, and within literacy, a focus on more advanced skills than what had been taught before.
Thats almost a sick joke. Literacy levels are low and, if anything, have been dropping for years. What does it matter if there is a claimed focus on advanced skills? Common Core is full of things that might be presented as advanced but they are merely dysfunctional. Close Reading, for example. Constructivist Learning for another. Reading-from-Context for yet another.
In this study, there is a clear bias against academics. We are supposed to be alarmed that the percentage of kindergarten teachers who said that children should learn to read in kindergarten increased from 30 percent in 1998 to 80 percent in 2010.
It is a most peculiar situation. Our Education Establishment enforces the worst methods, and then all the people with psychological or administrative oversight carefully pretend to be oblivious so they wont have to deal with the real problem.
Interested in motivation? Google will bring up such items as: Does Your Child Lack motivation? The Motivation Equation: Understanding a Childs Lack of Effort How to Motivate the Unmotivated Child How to Motivate your Child - Tips for Unmotivated Children Dont blame kids if they do not enjoy school, study suggests.
These articles offer expert opinion by smart people about the psychodramas of children who wont get up, wont dress, wont do their homework, etc. Basically, parents are told to master child psychology and become expert kid-wranglers. Instead, why not start the kids off right? They should learn to read in the first grade and then everyones life will be more pleasant.
Does anybody bother to check whether children in private schools have the same bad scenarios? These kids are taught to read and are actually learning facts and knowledge. That probably feels really good. Their motivation and ambition will increase.
Its amazing that our disingenuous professors keep pushing methods they know dont work. Its amazing that the societys leaders tolerate this malfeasance and the subsequent cover-up.
K-12 education reveals a hard truth. The public will get what the public settles for. Obviously, the public should stop settling for misguided schools that deliver predictably bad results year after year.
I disagree with the author. Poor reading skills only account for a small part of it. The main reason kids are underachievers is because of low expectations by the parents.
I grew up in poverty.
But we had a World Book Encyclopedia and a bunch of National Geographic Info books.
I learned to love to learn.
Anyone want to put hard $ on the kids in the OP having tattoos on their arms, neck and even their cheeks?
It is 100% on the parents to teach about values and not making stupid decisions.
Being unable to read effortlessly may be a starting factor but , I see through the years a lot of people who are quite content to let others “make the decisions.” Some people are followers and a smaller percentage are leaders or independent (such as myself) and are self-employed . I think a lot has to do with the smothering and constant supervision kids have now . Virtually everything these kids do depends on others setting everything up and all they need to do is be there ... no opportunity to fail at even the littlest thing and learn from it . This hovering either from parents or governmental agencies is what initiates lack of motivation....I couldn’t wait to get on my own and boy was it tough....but I did it and so have a lot of others .
I homeschooled my kids in phonics, math and history.
As infants they were sung the ABC song 30 times/day.
Kid’s learning is the parent’s responsibility.
Why be motivated when whether you try or not you get a participation trophy and you can vote for candidates that will funnel the money of the motivated to you?
The article omits the need for math skills as well as reading and writing
But what is probably obvious is that this was not a public school.
I spend a lot of time on on screen activities and read far more than I used to.
.math is weight lifting for the brain
.math is weight lifting for the brain
News flash. The parent(s) are ultimately responsible for a child’s education and motivation.
My theory, a lot of young people don’t know how to relate to the world because parents don’t talk to their kids, they talk at them.
Then you are not doing it right...math is more analogous to a sport - difficult but fun!
I don’t agree with the author either.......
Look at Ben Carsons story....his mother is truly the hero in his life.
A lot of rubbish. Reading skills do not in and of themselves provide motivation. If anything reading skill are obtained through motivation. This idiot has cause and effect reversed. Literacy and intelligence are two utterly different things. A motivated and intelligent person will overcome the obstacles presented by illiteracy.
Reading and writing are the narrowest forms of literacy. Comprehension and communication are the broadest forms. There are plenty of literate lazy incompetent peoples. There are many examples intelligent hard working people who are unable to read or write.
A good friend and I attend the same small town school in the 1950-60s. We were taught to read with phonics, learned to write in cursive using old time penmanship, learned math with flash cards and thought provoking story oroblems and participated in music programs. We have often compared our school experience with contempoary education. My friend refers to modern K-12 schools as failure factories that are destroying generations of students, by failing to teach them the basics especially reading.
The OP’s letter does not provide enough information for an adequate response.
She says her adult children are underachievers, which means they’re capable of doing more than they’re doing.
That doesn’t sound as if they’re poor readers.
Motivation comes from hope. All of those things in life that give hope are now under fire. God, religion, family - under fire. Self-determinism, dreams and ambition, reaching for the stars - all under fire (”you didn’t build that”). We live in a cynical world, and cynicism steals faith and hope, and leads to being lost without direction.
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