We’re all familiar with the advice that we should build on our strengths, but what if you don’t think you have any? That was certainly my dilemma as I was growing up. I had little or no interest in school and I didn’t graduate from high school.
Yes, I was one of those “unmotivated” students. “Marjorie should work harder” was written on every report card I can remember. (This assured me I was more lazy than stupid, which was a comfort). My bad habits persisted at university. Only I loved university and when I was interested in the subject, my grades soared.
Having so much experience as an unmotivated student has proven to be a godsend! You see, I’ve made my living from it since the early 1980s. For many years my job was to help academics to improve their teaching. I would attend some of their classes, videotape the lesson, survey and interview students, and provide feedback to the teacher.
The academics who had the most difficulty teaching were often highly intelligent, motivated, self-disciplined and achievement oriented. Consequently, they didn’t understand the majority of their students. This is where I came in: I helped teachers to understand their students’ perspective. As an observer, I could make the connections between teachers’ actions and students’ reactions. Yes, by observing teaching I discovered that it’s wrong to assume that students are unmotivated; the problem is they’re just under-stimulated. If only my school teachers had known this. (Sigh).