Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Art of Education

Whenever we discuss about education, we can never escape from talking about teaching and learning. Many researches have been done in those areas and many articles, books, have been written to clarify what teaching learning really is. In this short article I want to focus only to the role of motivation in education. Motivation is extremely important in education, as all educators in the world would agree, that I think the art of education depends very heavily on it.

There are two kinds of motivation in education, first is the motivation of the learner and second is the motivation of the teacher. Those two collide in the very process of education. The collision can result negatively or positively. For sure, when the motivation of the teacher suits the motivation of the learner, or the other way around, then it is very likely that the collision results positively. If the motivations don’t match, then we can almost be sure that the result is negative. However, as the saying goes: yesterday is history and tomorrow is mystery, then nobody can truly know what will happen exactly in the future. In the spirit of responsibility under the philosophy of planning using the reliable method of prediction, then one cannot just leave the process of education to mystery. Therefore, one needs to do as much as possible to match the motivation of the teacher and the learner.

The motivation of the teacher is of course to teach, as the motivation of the learner is to learn. The question is: to teach what and to learn what? Under the learner centered education concept, the motivation of the teacher is to be directed to teach the learner. Under the subject oriented education, the motivation of the teacher is directed to teaching the subject. Under the teacher centered concept, the motivation of the teacher is to teach whatever the teacher wishes to teach. On the other hand, learners learn either to be or to do or to know. Learners can direct themselves either to learn to become a certain someone, or to learn to do certain things, or to know what they want to know.

What does motivation have to do with the art of education? How can motivation be properly treated in order to complete the process of education accordingly? The key is simple. Teachers need to be aware of who they are and what motivation they hold in teaching. Motivation to teach can be detected if one is honest and not just trying to give the right answer. Of all those three teaching motivations, none is more superior than the other. According to the best of my knowledge, each motivation should be properly matched to the need of the education process. Moreover, in fact, it is not suggested to emphasize only on one kind of motivation and then neglect the other, for the process of education is a complicated process and it needs all three in its time. However, one tends to favor one motivation over the other. Sometimes, one favors one motivation simply because of the reason for convenience. Therefore, honesty is key. Peer reflection session might be needed to help the self to see more clearly and thus to improve.

For the learning motivation, the trick is to understand the motivation of the learners. Many times teachers don’t bother with learners’ motivation. Their motivation to learn is assumed. Here I suggest teachers take time to understand their learners’ motivation. In fact, this is the basic strategy that I am suggesting for the art of education in order to run the education process properly. This strategy needs to be perked up with the skills to draw the learners’ true motivation out and to help the learners to understand their own motivation. Therefore, teachers are to be skillful in inter-personal relationship. Or in other words, one cannot truly become a teacher if the inter-personal relationship skill is neglected.

Learners do select what they are learning or want to learn. This is where teachers cannot assume that a group of learners must have the same motivation when they gather in one subject course. Each and every one is unique, uniformity does not work in education. Uniformity works in factory but never in education. Instead of uniformity, I propose another word, a more powerful word, that is unity. In unity we can have diversity. In uniformity, diversity is a sin. How can diversity be a sin if we are created uniquely and diversely? By nature we are diverse. One learner might want to learn the subject because he wants to be like the professor who is teaching the course, another might want to learn the subject because she wants to satisfy her curiosity. Therefore, it is the teachers’ homework to search out the learners’ motivation. It is the teachers’ honorable duty to find the learners’ motivation to learn together with them.

The art of education lies heavily on the motivation. Teachers and learners ought to understand their motivations for the education process to work properly. Moreover, teachers and learners need to collaborate with each other in order to match their motivations. A word of advice: This task is not easy. That is why I call it the art of education, it is an art, and it is not mechanical machinery. Are we ready to walk in the path of education?

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