Skill acquisition and grades are a waste of time. They don’t take any of a child’s potential into consideration. For example, setting the goal of learning letters, numbers, colors, shapes, reading, writing (LNCSRW) for children focuses the attention of learning and the child’s abilities onto the acquisition of skills, regardless of the child’s personality, dispositions, or motivations. The goal is to merely learn LNCSRW because of the value that adults have assigned to them. Creative strategies may be developed to “motivate the child to learn” or to “help the child develop a love of learning”, but in reality the focus is on skills being acquired, not on the child learning. Therefore, grades must be used to act as a reward and punishment system to ensure skill acquisition.
What really matters is not letters, numbers, colors, shapes, reading, writing (LNCSRW). What really matters is WHY a child would want to learn LNCSRW. From this point of view, LNCSRW cease to be “skills” and instead become “tools” that the child can learn to use in order to pursue what they are intrinsically motivated to learn about. The focus of education in this view becomes supporting the child in clarifying and pursuing their motivations while exposing them to the relevant LNCSRW along the way. This educational view is called “Motivation Education”.
Motivation Education puts motivation at the center of why we educate children. According to the theory Motivation Education is based on (ILM Theory), a child’s motivations are the strongest driver’s of a child’s thoughts and actions. Simply put, the more motivated a child is the more a child will think about and do what motivates them. The job of the motivation educator, then, is to identify and cultivate the child’s motivations. Letters, numbers, colors, shapes, reading, writing (LNCSRW) become byproducts of the child's motivations.
By making the aim of education to cultivate children's motivations, grades cease to be useful. No longer does the child need to be forced to learn, so no longer are grades needed to incentive and penalize the child’s progress in learning what is required. Instead, communication, collaboration, and cooperation between the motivation educator and the child drive the child’s learning. The motivation educator is truly there for the benefit of the child, rather than to ensure the child learns LNCSRW.
The most notable differences between Motivation Education and Skills and Grades Education is (1) the speed, depth, and scope of the child’s learning, (2) the child’s performance, (3) the child’s emotional well-being, (4) the child’s sociability (i.e. communication, collaboration, cooperation, language), and (5) the child’s attitude toward learning. Motivation Education has been in practice for 8 years using ILM Method. So far, ILM Method has resulted in preschoolers outperforming their special needs peers, general needs peers, English language learner peers, high poverty peers, local peers, California peers, and even children from higher income and more educated backgrounds.
Compared to ILM Method, our current education system is squandering children’s potential. There is no reason to continue wasting children’s time by requiring them to learn letters, numbers, colors, shapes, reading, writing when they can use these skills as tools in pursuit of their motivations.
It’s time to reevaluate the aim of education. It’s time to give serious consideration to the cultivation of children’s motivations. It’s time for Motivation Education.