I’m reading this interesting article by Alfie Kohn in which he reflects on motivating students. He states that:
...it is impossible to motivate students.
In fact, it’s not really possible to motivate anyone, except perhaps yourself. If you have enough power, sure, you can make people, including students, do things. That’s what rewards (e.g., grades) and punishments (e.g., grades) are for. But you can’t make them do those things well -- “You can command writing, but you can’t command good writing,” as Donald Murray once remarked -- and you can’t make them want to do those things. The more you rely on coercion and extrinsic inducements, as a matter of fact, the less interest students are likely to have in whatever they were induced to do.
What a teacher can do – all a teacher can do – is work with students to create a classroom culture, a climate, a curriculum that will nourish and sustain the fundamental inclinations that everyone starts out with: to make sense of oneself and the world, to become increasingly competent at tasks that are regarded as consequential, to connect with (and express oneself to) other people.
You can read the entire article here.