Emerging Issues in Education
The reasons why children go to school are varied.
Some have long term ambitions, some follow their friends and then some are dragged.
The children who are forced to go to school present problems to parents and teachers.
Children should not be forced to learn but rather motivated towards learning.
Abraham Maslow, a humanist psychologist, proposed that there exist a hierarchy of human needs, also called the theory of motivation.
These needs are typically presented in the form of a pyramid, building from basic needs to higher and more sophisticated needs at the top.
This week we focus on how parents can help the children in developing motivation towards learning.
The motivation suggested by Maslow is extrinsic motivation.
If your child shows lack of interest in school then this article is certainly written with you in mind.
Motivation is a drive or push that makes one act towards a goal.
Motivation as a concept is used as an explanation or rationale for the way a person or an organism behaves.
Some children are intrinsically motivated to learn and some extrinsically motivated.
Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure.
Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, which then contradicts intrinsic motivation.
Once a need is satisfied, the next level need emerges as a motivator.
The initial role towards motivating the child towards learning is to provide him or her with basic needs.
However, it is important to note from the onset that not all needs can be met all the time.
That said, basic needs form the primary needs at the bottom of the pyramid.
These are needs immediately necessary for personal survival, for example food, shelter, clothing, sleep, oxygen and constant blood temperature.
The child’s motivation in school will not improve to the next level until basic needs have been met.
Examples of factors that parents should supply include enrolling the child at a favourite school.
Parents should provide nutritious food for the child to be consumed at break time or lunch.
All the facilities that assist in teaching and learning should be put in as pre-requisites, including stationery.
If these needs are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the child feels anxious, tense and may hate going to school.
Safety needs are concerned with security from physical and emotional harm.
Safety needs come second to the human needs.
If a child is resisting going to school with basic needs supplied, it could be that the child’s safety at school is threatened.
Some teachers could be autocratic, which unsettles the child.
The child needs protection from potentiality threatening objects or situations, for example if it is a new place, children become more concerned with their security and less in the learning process.
The parents should communicate with the class teachers quite often and talk about issues affecting the safety of the child.
Create an open channel of communication between your child and yourself.
Love and belonging
Once children have basic needs and feel safe, and the need to be loved and to belong is met, their motivation to learn is further enhanced.
It’s true most parents supply the basic needs, including safety, but lack in providing love.
The child desires to be an accepted member of the family.
Parents need to spend quality time with their children.
This is a challenge in broken families where parents can fight over the child and deny the other parent time with the child.
Yes, we can supply the child with all the basic needs — safety, food, toys — but nothing and noone can replace the love of a parent.
The next level is the self-esteem needs.
This involves how children feel about themselves — selfworthiness.
It is classified into two categories, the first one is how one views him or herself, selfrespect, selfevaluation; while the second one is how others view the child.
If the child is respected by the family members, he or she can tell by the attention and appreciation they get from the family.
Parents should help their children to develop confidence by treating them with dignity.
Idai mwana sezvaari.
That way, the child will learn to value himself or herself, thereby leading to a desire to achieve and learn.
This is the stage some children may not reach due to a lack of some of the aforementioned needs.
Help the child to develop their potential talents and capabilities so that they reach this stage.
Please, note that not all children are gifted academically, therefore let them pursue areas they are best at and are interested in.
They should be encouraged to be the best they can be in life, for example joining the choir, sports club or dance group.
For them to enjoy school, encourage them to be the best they can be.
Parents are expected to provide learners with chances to experience success by allowing them to demonstrate their skills to the family or friends.
It is very important for parents to pay attention to the needs of the children in order to avoid dragging them in the wrong direction.
Next week, we look at professionals who have made it in sports and the arts.