Fredric McRye
English Argument
December 8, 1995

The Motivational Cycle

There are many views concerning the educational status of America. It has become fairly evident that the educational system is not reaching its potential. Most critics of the system try to find a specific fault in the system, and then offer a solution to solve only the specific problem. Using this technique, the author is able to direct our attention to one specific part of the system, and show us what can be done to fix it. Unfortunately this approach will not solve the overall problem, but merely patch a piece of the system, while some of the other problems go unattended. If we instead turned to analyzing the system as a whole and looked for the underlying problem, we might be able to propose a solution that would solve many of the other individual problems.

The only difficulty with this strategy is that the problem we find is one that can not be solved by merely adding funding to one area or another. Instead we find that the problem is an overall lack of motivation to learn on the behalf of the students. The studentŐs lack the desire to learn the information that is being presented to them in classes. Without this desire to learn, the knowledge can not be absorbed efficiently. The common solution to this problem has been to slow down the classes to the point where the students learn through re-iteration, rather than conscience learning. This causes a system-wide slow down as teachers are forced to review the material excessively.

This lack of motivation can be attributed to many things. Though the presence of these things creates a problem for society, we can not merely take these things away. The absence of these things would prove more detrimental later in life. Instead, we should, as a society, be able to find a way of controlling the influence of these things. To make the point more concretely, let us take television as an example. The television provides for entertainment that the child does not need to put forth creativity or energy to receive. The child can enjoy the benefits of someone else's work, while doing little or none of his own. However, the removal of television from the child's life would also remove any chance of learning from it. Educational programs have proven to teach children the material that they would otherwise be unlikely to learn. We as a society must encourage children to watch educational shows in order to allow television to benefit them, otherwise the television has become a distraction to the proper development of the children. Though the television is merely an example, this stimulus without work is what is at the core of the motivational disintegration of out country. If the child never learns to put forth work in order to receive the benefits of entertainment, the basis of capitalism will seem foreign when the children enter the work force. It is then left to the employer to teach the individual motivation. This is what causes industry to slow down and become less productive than its potential.

If we were to teach the children the motivational skills that they need before they enter the workforce, then we would create a workforce that is more productive. In order to do this, we allow stimulus or reward only after some type of intellectual or mental input. This will teach our children the value of work and motivation. Once the child learns this skill, then opportunities to expand and grow intellectually become available. It this self-motivation that this country and economic system have been founded on. The motivation to venture forth in hopes of creating or discovering something that can be used to benefit the individual and society is critical to our nation's success. "No discovery has ever been made by someone who risks nothing"; and without the motivation to do so, no one will risk anything.

Now it becomes a matter of getting the children to become self-motivated. This can not be a job for merely one person, this must be a job that is shared by society as a whole. In the words of the proverb "It takes two to create a child, but it takes a town to raise him," we begin to see how we must go about teaching our children their necessary skills. Society must be able to convey the significance of motivation to the child through out the maturation of the child. This training must start early, even before the skills will be needed to benefit society.

In the early life of the child, before he enters school, parents are the primary influence for teaching the child. By the term parents, I do not restrict the responsibility to the parents of the child in question, but rather to all the parents that will affect to life of the child, directly of indirectly through their children. During this period of life, the child learns from other children what their parents have taught them. In order for the child to view self-motivation as normal, that message must be present in any contact that the has with other children. This is a crucial step in the fostering of this quality, since most morals and values are established at a very early age.

Once the child enters school, society has another significant way of influencing the development of the child. Through the teacher and their classroom, society must begin to express an expectation that the child is motivated. If motivation is expected, the child will continue to refine his skill, however, if the school does not expect this skill, it can have detrimental effects. If the expectation is not shown, the chances are that the child will choose to do his work in such a way that the work does not require this extra effort. If the school system expects motivation, then the curriculum can be set up in such a way that the work requires the child to use this skill.

This expectation is not enough though. Through the child's life to this point, the activities the required self-motivation most likely returned positive comments. The school system must be able to provide some type of feed-back and positive encouragement for self-motivation. The present school systems lack a strong system of positive feedback and encouragement. By adding a system that can supply a reward for self-motivation, the school system will also teach the child to value these qualities.

The individual trained in type of school system will be a more productive member o society. He will have been trained by the schools to be motivated to learn and work for rewards. He will be able to enter the work force and will be productive from the very beginning, instead of needing to be re-trained. A self-motivated work force will be not only more efficient, but will produce a better product. In addition, these individuals will be better suited to raise another generation will this skill. This next generation will again raise another generation, creating a cycle of motivated individuals and a productive society.

Fredric McRye is a freshman at Carnegie Mellon, in the Mellon College of Science.