Education and Motivation

Posted on July 10, 2012

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Prompt: What are the values of (public) education?
How can we increase individual motivation (both in teachers and students)?

The general concession in America is that public education is beneficial to all. Unfortunately, the benefits are not equal in every school, or for every student. In the Chicago Public School(CPS) system we see a shockingly high number of unmotivated students doing poorly in schools, who have no plans to go to college and little drive towards a successful life. Instead they see celebrities and professional sports players who haven’t completed college and would like to pursue those dreams. The sad reality is that all students aren’t motivated equally, and do not receive enough support. Poor teaching, sparse amounts of individual attention, and little reinforcement at home and at school (from parents, teachers, and peers) can produce unmotivated students, and has lead to the large amount (about 37%) of failing public schools in Chicago.

A lot of students don’t think about the values of education and how it will help them prosper in the future. The basic values of education include development of logic, critical thinking, and social skills. It also diversifies and opens students to the history of different cultures. In most situations a college degree is essential in order to get a job. Getting students to learn and understand these values are the stepping stones to their motivation through high school and college.

While the Chicago Public School system is widely believed to be beneficial, and is funded quite considerably, not all students and schools succeed as much as others. This problem is rooted in both funding and motivation. Though public schools are funded mostly based on attendance and enrollment, the system is not flawless. Many schools in poor neighborhoods receive less funding based on low property tax collection and suffer from low attendance rates. In poor neighborhoods, there are fewer well-educated adults, who provide support in the home, establishing values of attendance and good performance in classes (http://www.psmag.com/education/poor-neighborhoods-mean-fewer-high-school-grads-37159/). This takes away more from the schools’ funding, and completely reverses the intention of funding public schools. The higher performing, more privileged schools receive more than adequate funding, where poorer schools are forced to fend for themselves. Outside of the home, often students do not always receive adequate motivation, whether among peers (who usually speak against school), or in class. In neighborhood schools, individual attention is hard to come by, as student-to-teacher ratios are extremely high. Furthermore, not every teacher will care enough to help. Their salary is already low, and only increases based on the time spent working. Their jobs or salaries do not depend enough on student performance or teacher evaluations, so they have no motivation provided (besides their individual opinions) to do anything beyond the minimum.

Because of this, the responsibility of motivating students and improving schools becomes the city’s and the community’s. It is tough to regulate students’ motivation and will to learn, but there are ways to incentivize quality education. Unfortunately, it is difficult to motivate students by simply explaining the values of education (especially when they aren’t raised to believe that it’s important) Today’s theories and ideas will most likely have little positive effect on Chicago’s students. For example, there is no reason to believe that extending the school day will improve education, unless we improve quality first. In fact, extra hours of school will most likely make students less motivated to learn and increase the number of students cutting class. In order to improve, the staff and the students need motivation. Since the teachers have an already low salary, only based on their degrees and years of experience, many have little motivation to teach well. Instead of these being the only factors in determining a teacher’s salary, there should be other systems. First, standardized test results should decide a small fraction of pay. To counteract “bad test-takers,” the Chicago Public School Board should send inspectors to different schools, who are totally unbiased, to evaluate teachers at random dates and times to determine the rest of their salary. Another idea, that has been tested in other areas (specifically in New York), is compensating and rewarding students for good grades. Students would be paid a certain sum for each A and each B, but at random times throughout the year to prevent any slacking, and to keep students working to keep their grades up (since they could be rewarded at any time throughout the year). This would help since not every student is brought up at home to believe that education is extremely valuable, and need an obvious symbol to show them that hard work is important. It doesn’t even have to be money, so long as it is something that the students appreciate and will work hard to earn. It is good preparation for success, higher education, and a professional career.

One of the biggest problems is the financial support. All schools must be supported equally. In order for the Chicago Public School system to improve, CPS has to even out the budget for schools and give the students and teachers more motivation to build positive intelligent students who will help improve the economy and society as a whole.

The general concession in America is that public education is beneficial to all. Unfortunately, the benefits are not equal in every school, or for every student. In the Chicago Public School(CPS) system we see a shockingly high number of unmotivated students doing poorly in schools, who have no plans to go to college and little drive towards a successful life. Instead they see celebrities and professional sports players who haven’t completed college and would like to pursue those dreams. The sad reality is that all students aren’t motivated equally, and do not receive enough support. Poor teaching, sparse amounts of individual attention, and little reinforcement at home and at school (from parents, teachers, and peers) can produce unmotivated students, and has lead to the large amount (about 37%) of failing public schools in Chicago.

A lot of students don’t think about the values of education and how it will help them prosper in the future. The basic values of education include development of logic, critical thinking, and social skills. It also diversifies and opens students to the history of different cultures. In most situations a college degree is essential in order to get a job. Getting students to learn and understand these values are the stepping stones to their motivation through high school and college.

While the Chicago Public School system is widely believed to be beneficial, and is funded quite considerably, not all students and schools succeed as much as others. This problem is rooted in both funding and motivation. Though public schools are funded mostly based on attendance and enrollment, the system is not flawless. Many schools in poor neighborhoods receive less funding based on low property tax collection and suffer from low attendance rates. In poor neighborhoods, there are fewer well-educated adults, who provide support in the home, establishing values of attendance and good performance in classes (http://www.psmag.com/education/poor-neighborhoods-mean-fewer-high-school-grads-37159/). This takes away more from the schools’ funding, and completely reverses the intention of funding public schools. The higher performing, more privileged schools receive more than adequate funding, where poorer schools are forced to fend for themselves. Outside of the home, often students do not always receive adequate motivation, whether among peers (who usually speak against school), or in class. In neighborhood schools, individual attention is hard to come by, as student-to-teacher ratios are extremely high. Furthermore, not every teacher will care enough to help. Their salary is already low, and only increases based on the time spent working. Their jobs or salaries do not depend enough on student performance or teacher evaluations, so they have no motivation provided (besides their individual opinions) to do anything beyond the minimum.

Because of this, the responsibility of motivating students and improving schools becomes the city’s and the community’s. It is tough to regulate students’ motivation and will to learn, but there are ways to incentivize quality education. Unfortunately, it is difficult to motivate students by simply explaining the values of education (especially when they aren’t raised to believe that it’s important) Today’s theories and ideas will most likely have little positive effect on Chicago’s students. For example, there is no reason to believe that extending the school day will improve education, unless we improve quality first. In fact, extra hours of school will most likely make students less motivated to learn and increase the number of students cutting class. In order to improve, the staff and the students need motivation. Since the teachers have an already low salary, only based on their degrees and years of experience, many have little motivation to teach well. Instead of these being the only factors in determining a teacher’s salary, there should be other systems. First, standardized test results should decide a small fraction of pay. To counteract “bad test-takers,” the Chicago Public School Board should send inspectors to different schools, who are totally unbiased, to evaluate teachers at random dates and times to determine the rest of their salary. Another idea, that has been tested in other areas (specifically in New York), is compensating and rewarding students for good grades. Students would be paid a certain sum for each A and each B, but at random times throughout the year to prevent any slacking, and to keep students working to keep their grades up (since they could be rewarded at any time throughout the year). This would help since not every student is brought up at home to believe that education is extremely valuable, and need an obvious symbol to show them that hard work is important. It doesn’t even have to be money, so long as it is something that the students appreciate and will work hard to earn. It is good preparation for success, higher education, and a professional career.

One of the biggest problems is the financial support. All schools must be supported equally. In order for the Chicago Public School system to improve, CPS has to even out the budget for schools and give the students and teachers more motivation to build positive intelligent students who will help improve the economy and society as a whole.

Devante Morgan and Ryan Brown

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Posted in: Devante M, Ryan B