Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Taking the road less traveled: Hard Work or Hard to Motivate?

Yesterday I posted on my Facebook account the following status:

"Thoughts of a college freshman:

What if for every dream we have inspired as a society, we helped become a reality? For the young Olympic watchers who want to one day have a gold medal of their own: why do we encourage them to dream this but then not put forth the effort to help them. Why is it that kids who dreamed of becoming leaders and changing the world are growing up and thinking "I can't because it's impossible."? We need to break the idea of hard meaning impossible. Just because something is hard, doesn't mean it can't be done. I challenge us as a society to stop working against dreams and show that roads less traveled aren't the easiest but they are far from impossible.

Who's to tell us what the human mind and body cannot accomplish?"

Now, let me expand on this...

It honestly kills me when I see people who I once went to school with who I remember saying that they wanted to be architects, lawyers, world class musicians, doctors, top of the line athletes, and change the world, end up doing one or some combination of the following: drop out of high school, drop out of college, claim "it's too hard" or say "I'm not smart enough". If you really want to achieve something, it's not going to get done by quoting and moving on to something easier - like getting a minimum wage job and saying "who needs an education" or "I'm not good enough to reach a goal."

Yet, this happens. It happens a lot. I grew up in a town much like the one that resembles the town of Coal Wood in the awesome movie "October Skies." While my hometown wasn't a coal mining town, the attitude was pretty much the same. A few people would make it out on a football scholarship. The rest would end up sticking around.

I'm not blaming a sole person for a lack of motivation for kids achieving goals. I am blaming society as a whole. We spend so much time telling kids they can be anything they want when they grow up. When they enter middle and high school, that mind set shifts. Many students become unmotivated through either financial setbacks, trying to "fit in" with a certain clic, or they honestly become lazy.

How can we prevent this lack of motivation in students? If you ask me, ask a student the first day of school what they want to be once they are "grown up." Have them set some long term goals. Then, don't just place those goals in a "I wasn't going to forget about you but I am going to" pile. Work with the students, help them find internships, projects, and additional materials that they can be a part of. If money is an issue, help them find scholarships. 

Don't ever tell someone "You can't do this because it would be too hard and I don't have the time to help you."

If you honestly don't have the time, ask the student if he or she would be willing to speak to someone else about the subject and direct them to that person. If it's too hard, let the student find that out themselves. Will power to achieve something is a strength that cannot be measured.

Next time a kid answers the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with something that seems outrageous or that it would take a lot of work, don't say "It's too hard." Why? That kid has seen someone else do it and wants to get on that level. Whether it's winning a gold medal, being a musician, or becoming a lawyer, doctor, architect,  etc., who are we to shoot down someone's dreams?

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