Motivation as a teaching and learning tool
Early this year I made a conscious decision to make ‘motivation’ and ‘encouraging’ my students regularly an integral part of my teaching philosophy. I wanted to create a learning environment for students to learn the objectives of the Sociological Theory course. The most significant objective in my teaching practice, was to create an enabling environment that nurtures students’ critical consciousness about the social world in which they live in. I thought about this approach as I reflected on my learning experiences as a student. I recalled my learning experiences that had the most impact on both my intellectual and personal growth. In the courses that I studied, I perceived that my instructors aligned their learning philosophy to their teaching philosophy and this manifested in their teaching strategy. I sought to give my students a similar learning experience.
During my lessons I would often remind my students about the importance of dreaming big, of changing their lives and their families’ lives. I would remind them that coming to a university allows us as mostly young black people from disadvantaged backgrounds, to re-write history, write modern narratives that talk of poverty as a thing of the past. I wanted us to write and tell different stories about our life experiences. At times I felt like my mini motivational talks were perceived as preaching, not making any sense and that students would rather listen to me talk about social theory only. To my surprise, at the end of the course I received multiple e-mails from students thanking me for a great learning experience, especially with references to the motivation talks I would give them. One student in particular came to my office and said the following
“I may forget what you say to me, and I may also forget what you do, but I never forget how you make me feel. You make me feel brilliant because you are brilliant”.
This made me realise two things; I have to continue encouraging my students and as academics we must aim to appeal to students in a holistic manner and not only to their intellectual life.