Transference of Motivation

By McKenna Domalski

Combating Apathy with Energy

The thing is, I want students to care. I want students to want to do well. I want students to beg me for information and ways to open their mind and ideas that will inspire them to push forward and make changes. But at what point does what I want for them matter? If I can’t make my students rise to the challenge, then all my hopes and dreams fade to dust. The question then becomes, how do I get students to invest in what I’m saying, and therefore, their own educations and future?

Gaining Insight into my Apathetic Students

The first step in trying to combat apathy in my own classroom is to understand what components are aiding and causing the lack of motivation within my students. I utilized Overcoming Student Apathy: Motivating Students for Academic Success by Jeff C. Marshall to hopefully shed some light onto the issue. Marshall categorizes students into categories by likely reasons for their lack of success; my most difficult students fall under the categories of:
  • The Downtrodden
  • The Player
  • The Other

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The Challenge

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My Findings

My findings continue to be a work in progress. As I feared, there seems to be no definitive answer for making students want to learn. It seems as though every apathetic student needs to be targeted individually, and even then, you may still not find the right strategy to reach that student in the short time you have with them. Your time is limited to minutes in a day in weeks in less than a year to hopefully make a lifelong impact on your students. In order to address apathy within your own classroom, remember these key points:
  • Each student is an individual learner; you have to treat them that way.
  • Different students are taking different paths in life, so make sure to address all of those paths in your rationales and lesson plans.
  • "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid." -- Albert Einstein.

As I continue to teach, I will continue to learn. My strategies will evolve and develop as I further my education, both as an educator and a person.

Contact Me.

To find out more information about my ongoing research into motivating students, please feel free to contact me.