Perfection is the True Friend of Fear
Often times, the only reason we fear anything is because we hate to confront the feeling of fear itself. And often times, our failures instill a fear within us. However, if we were able to shift this thinking from making the fear our failures and our failures the fear, to understanding that perfection is the true friend of fear, we can begin to build a resourceful and meaningful culture.
Emotions are so deeply rooted within human beings that when they are provoked enough, they can make us do anything. Imagine if our emotions were so strongly geared toward our passions and creativity without the worry of judgement or perfection. What would that look like? Would this be an ingredient toward building the intrinsically motivated learner?
I asked my learners the other day how much grades mattered to them. Their response was overwhelmingly passionate about achieving good grades. When I asked whether grades or learning was more important, they acknowledged learning as an importance. However, they pointed out that grades were what mattered more, because it was their ticket to their futures.
Grades are treated as currency more than anything.
I asked them how they would feel if I didn't give them grades, to which they instantly became skeptical and worrisome of their peers. They worried that some of their peers wouldn't take their learning seriously. They would "play the system," as my kids put it. I pushed the idea that it shouldn't matter. Anyone can cheat for the grades, but not necessarily for the understandings. Without the extrinsic reward of grades, the kids found learning for themselves meaningless and became more concerned with how they would prove their intelligences to their peers. Is this a form of extrinsic rewards?
This competitive nature, in some ways, pleases me. I can appreciate collaborative competition. However, not every learner will be up to this challenge. They may find learning to be not just an academic stressor anymore, but rather a social stressor. So, we return back to a basic question:
How can we help build an intrinsically motivated learner?
It isn't completely weighed upon grading practices. It is woven throughout every piece of education. We work with human beings. We cannot make kids learn. However, we can create the conditions for learning and creativity to take place.