Motivating the Learner

| April 5, 2011 | 0 Comments

(Expert Educator Series)
Author: A Zimmerman
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 978-1-770306-20-2
Reviewed by: Fay Byrne, Librarian, Auckland Park Primary School

The Expert Educator Series has been published expressly to help educators “who are looking at expanding their knowledge and enhancing their skills”. And Motivating the Learner definitely fulfils this aim. It is a comprehensive manual that covers the field clearly and succinctly. The book is divided into four themes: a definition of motivation; theories of motivation and research findings, which Zimmermann then links to education; motivation models; and finally, motivating strategies for educators.

More motivation, less absenteeism?
Zimmermann gives several clear definitions of motivation and then goes on to explain its importance in schools, pointing out that with more motivated learners, South Africa could probably cut the rate of absenteeism and behavioural problems in schools. A motivated pupil is much less likely to bunk school or to play up in class! The case studies he uses throughout his book are both pertinent to South African schools and often very telling.

Different theories reflect our socio-economic context

Many teachers are aware of the various theories of motivation – Maslow’s Hierarchy; Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory; McClelland’s Need for Achievement theory; and Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation. The author explains each theory and then goes on to explain how they can be used by the educator. When discussing Maslow, he points out that, in South Africa, because of poverty, malnutrition, violence and HIV/Aids, a huge number of our learners don’t even have their basic needs met, and it is enormously difficult for these learners to perform at school. Probably these theoretical sections of the book would be of more interest to education students and new teachers, but I still found it interesting to refresh my memory.

Book looks at the hidden curriculum, inclusivity and cultural diversity
The section of the book that I found most interesting dealt with motivating strategies, as Zimmerman discusses issues I’ve never really considered before, but which are so obvious once they’re pointed out. He speaks of the “hidden curriculum” in a school, by which he means the unspoken norms that govern all aspects of how a school functions.

He points out that this aspect of a school can seriously influence learner motivation, and educators need to be sensitive to its effects. Some learners will thrive on it, whilst others could be negatively affected. Zimmermann includes a discussion on inclusiveness – in the broadest sense of the term – and cultural diversity.

Educators need to be constantly aware of these issues and should handle them sensitively lest they seriously demoralise learners, advises Zimmerman, giving advice on how to manage situations that could arise. Lastly, he discusses learning styles and gives practical examples on how to accommodate these in lesson planning. He points out that the teacher’s role is to mediate the curriculum on behalf of all his or her learners. This is a comprehensive look at motivation as it applies to South African education. If I was to recommend this book to anyone, it would probably be to student teachers and teachers who haven’t been exposed to in-school discussions on motivation. I have a daughter in her fourth year of studying towards a teaching degree and I will definitely be passing this useful little book on to her!

Tags: ,

Category: Autumn 2011, Book Reviews

About the Author ()

News posts added for Independent Education by Global Latitude DMA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *