Erin is a mom of two and has been with Today’s Mama for ten years. She is charged with finding and sharing all of the wonderful things the web has to offer. She is particularly fond of food, photography, printables, and funny things. She writes about losing weight in her Healthy Living for Mom series, and is chronicling her attempt to master her DSLR camera with her series, Big Girl Camera.

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Motivation: Teachers or Parents?

Have you heard about this teacher? The one that blogged about her students, calling them “disengaged, lazy whiners”?

Now, I’m not about to touch the issue of whether or not a teacher should blog about their students. Only because I got my pants right in a twist about this part of the article right off the bat:

One of Munroe’s former students, who now attends McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., said he was torn by his former teacher’s comments.  He continued: “As far as motivated high school students, she’s completely correct. High school kids don’t want to do anything. … It’s a teacher’s job, however, to give students the motivation to learn.”

I wholeheartedly disagree.

As a high school student, I worked hard in school to get good grades and I held a part-time job that kept me busy on nights and weekends…as did most of my friends. Did I run with a good crowd, sure. Is that because our school was full of teachers that were motivating us?

Not really. Sure we had some great teachers, but we also had parents that expected a lot from us. Tiger Moms…maybe not, but boy, could my Dad roar when he needed to.

It’s a parents responsibility to instill work ethic, a desire to learn and be successful to their children.

A teacher’s job is to help a child master a skill or concept. To find creative ways to open their mind. To pull back the curtain on ideas, histories, arts and culture in way that invites them to dig in and explore.

I had many, many phenomenal teachers that showed me a new way to look at science, helped me as I struggled with Math or introduced me to books that would shape my thoughts and writing as I grew up.

But, motivation? That came from my parents. They modeled not only working hard, but being thorough and reliable. No teacher dangling a grade could ever do for my friends and me what our parents did—held us accountable to their standards.

Parenting comes with an enormous amount of responsibility and that responsibility doesn’t end when the kids head off to Kindergarten. The sooner, we as parents understand where our responsibility ends and teacher’s begins, the better off our kids and society will be.

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Comments (10)

  1. Becky 02/23/2011 at 3:05 pm

    Love this Erin! I think this growing generation doesn’t know what responsibility an hard work are. I hope to instill those in my children as my parents did for me.

  2. Cory Puuri 02/21/2011 at 12:36 pm

    Amen! Too many people think the classroom should function like a business with the teacher as manager and students as employees. Test scores being the product of management’s work. Poor work product is a sign the manager isn’t motivating the work force. The problem is that student is not getting paid to be there and they are too far removed from the real world to internalize the consequences of poor behavior and performance. The teacher can motivate with rewards and punishment, but rewards and punishment don’t allow the student to establish a good work ethic because they don’t equate the learning process as being an intrinsic reward. They only see work = candy. That is where parents need to spend their time educating their children and getting them to establish a work ethic, and the sooner the better. Children establish their behavioral tendencies at an early age. Verbally (not with candy and TV time) reinforce good behavior and you’ll see your child begin to develop great behaviors.

  3. Erica Fehrman 02/18/2011 at 9:20 am

    My favorite high school teacher is still teaching after 35 years, and she told me that the kids are pretty much the same–it’s the parents who have changed. Even in my neighborhood I’m confused. I’ve never seen the high school kids on our street mow, rake leaves or shovel snow. I thought that was the whole reason for having kids! (just kidding, haha 🙂

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  5. Carina 02/18/2011 at 12:33 am

    You would not believe what a teacher close to me sees: how parents deliberately de-motivate, undermine, and refuse to hold their own children accountable. Then they expect the teacher to pick up the slack. It’s adorable.

  6. Jake Spurlock 02/17/2011 at 5:26 pm

    Now, whose responsibility is it when they get to college?

    The parents? The teacher? Or does the student just automatically become responsible?

    • Carina 02/18/2011 at 12:40 am

      This is what the teacher close to me tries to explain. Often, however, it’s a hard conversation about how their kid probably won’t go to college if they continue on this path.

      And from my college professor mother, she says that those kids continue to ask for “extra credit” and feel they are entitled to special treatment. They are shocked and upset when they find out that they are the only responsible party.

  7. Raejean 02/17/2011 at 1:43 pm

    It’s interesting how society has changed in a relatively short period of time, it wasn’t that long ago that many children didn’t have the luxury of a formal education. Now some feel entitled to amazing teachers at bargain basement salaries.

    I’m grateful for the handful of amazing teacher I’ve worked with in my education and that of my children. I look at them as an unexpected treasure. Not only is my responsibility to make sure I’m providing a learning environment at home, I’m involved in my children schools by volunteering in the classroom and chaperoning field trips.

    We can’t expect amazing teachers if we don’t support them, and we can’t expect amazing kids if we don’t motivate them.

    • Erin Oltmanns 02/17/2011 at 3:05 pm

      Nicely put. I could not agree more!