Jamaica Gleaner / ‘Education is key’ is a statement that has been passed on from generation to generation. These words have resonated with many of us and have proven true in many instances. However, similar to anything that we tend to say or do repetitively, it appears to have become merely a clichÈ rather than a statement loaded with truth. Some students may be in the education system not because they themselves deem it necessary, but because their parents do. Simply put, maybe students go to school because they are supposed to, not because they want to. If this is the case, then we have a MAJOR problem because as human beings, our best results come when we are intrinsically motivated – when we have our own established goals that we are working towards.
A team from the Jamaica Productivity Centre travelled to Rhodes Hall High School in Orange Bay, Hanover, to spend a day with the fifth-formers who are in preparation mode for CXC examinations. After establishing that fear was the main emotion for students towards the examinations, we decided to ‘free talk’ about things they like, as well as where they want to be. The intention was to use their future goals as a source of motivation to not shy away from the academic challenge, but meet it head-on.
When we asked the question of what they wanted to become, many students volunteered numerous career options; but when asked what was needed to get there, there was a deafening silence. Students wanted to be ‘engineers’ but they were either not pursuing the relevant subjects or were not performing optimally in them. It became obvious to us that students not only needed to have goals, but objectives – measurable steps that are time bound that lead them to the accomplishment of their end results.
Currently, we tend to measure student performance in relation to a particular established ‘pass mark’ and ‘percentage’. Hence, students work arduously towards ‘passing’ each subject and are consoled by attaining the pass mark, this is how they measure their success and, conversely, their failure. This promotes mediocrity. Instead, students should reailse that the subjects that they are learning now are the foundation for the career that they wish to pursue. The subject should be a source of encouragement to develop the requisite knowledge and passion to be the best in their career fields, if they are keen on this, then automatically the grades will follow.
Our millennials and Generation ‘Zers’ do not respond well to ‘do it because you must’,; they perform better when a cause-and-effect relation is established that shows how it impacts them. The 5-Why analysis method can be used to assist students to move beyond the symptoms of poor performance and understand the true root cause of a learning problem. Next time you attempt to encourage a student, try this method.
Below is a demonstration of the method with a student who was boggled about the need to go to school (as inevitably students tend to question when the exam pressure is on).
1. Why do I have to go to school?
Ans: So that I may get a good job.
2. Why do I need to get a good job?
Ans: So that I may make money.
3. Why do I want to make money?
Ans: In order to afford all the things I want and to take care of my mom and dad.
4. Why do I want to afford all these things?
Ans: So that I can be happy.
5. Why do I want to be happy?
Ans: Because that is what I really want – a happy life!
In the end, we established that if you want a happy life then the good news is, it is within your power to work for it! Spend time today to work towards your goals of tomorrow. Strive to be at least two times happier or more comfortable than your parents.
The team from the Jamaica Productivity Centre lifts our hats to the teachers and staff of the Rhodes Hall High School who invited us to encourage and motivate their students in light of the impending CXC examinations. Keep up the excellent work!
– Sashelle Gooden is senior communication specialist at the Jamaica Productivity Centre.