The bane of my collegiate academic existence was the coursework that was required of me yet had absolutely zero pertinence to my major. I’m talking about classes like Philosophy of Art, Academic Writing, College Mathematics (yep! the most basic math I could handle – passed it with a D+), and the like.
When I was an upperclassman, I had the opportunity to pick from much more enthralling courses that, while they were possibly irrelevant (Death and Dying, for instance), they were also highly interesting.
I was thinking about this on the way home yesterday. I didn’t do too well in Academic Writing (C or C+ if memory serves) and got a B- in Philosophy of Art (must have been some kind of curve!) There was no motivation to do well. The motivation was just to get by.
My dear alma mater (University of Maryland – Go Terps!) saw it fit that I should be a well-rounded journalist, educated in many facets of the world. Never mind that I looked at those irrelevant courses as a waste. I simply HAD to take them.
When I could choose the courses and coursework, I did much better.
I look at my students, who in our most recent writing unit, chose a topic of interest to share their knowledge about. Wow! I had no idea that kid loved basketball or that that kid knew so much about pandas!
Ah, but they had the choice. That gave them the incentive. They rocked it.
Pretty simple, isn’t it? When we can choose what we do, we’re much more likely to be invested and interested.