"One’s ability to cope with math could be less of a function of a student’s IQ and more a function of their ability to apply themselves to a task. According to LiveScience.com, recent research shows that motivation is key when it comes to conquering mathematics, although the motivation has to come from the student and not be directed by parents, guardians or teachers."This is one of those studies that causes me to yell, Ah-ha!, at the computer screen, followed quickly by Oh, crap!
"Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be a correlation between IQ and improvement in math skills."
"The children of parents who applied consistent pressure showed no significant improvement at all."
Whether or not they want to admit it, decision-makers ignore the factors outside of school and they ignore the factors inside the students. Motivation plays a part in education. Teachers know it. Some administrators know it. What do we do about it?
We need to be honest, though. It's this kind of information that leads to laziness and excuses. It's easy to blame the students for their lack of effort. All the while, we're creating ridiculously boring lectures, dictating silly activities, force-feeding worksheets and textbook pages. We rely on algorithms and short-cuts while ignoring discovery and cooperation. We have access to incredible electronic tools, but we still insist on telling them what we want them to know. We need to spend more time assessing and less time grading. Rather than Scott Foresman or McMillan/McGraw-Hill, we should consult with Tomlinson, Marzano, Van de Walle, and many others. We must become better students as well as better teachers.
We may not be able to motivate students to learn math, but we can try to trick them into learning it.