This statement has captured my attention as I went through Module 5 and has brought me back in time.
As a young kid, I remember practicing martial arts. I guess I was watching too much cartoon action movies such as GI Joe and Transformers that they have become my heroes as a boy. I like the idea of the good guys beating up the villains with their incredible fighting skills. So, one day I asked my parents to enroll me in a karate dojo to fulfill my secret goal of becoming an action hero. Looks like I had a taste of Goal Orientation already early in life.
Funny as it may seem but this has taught me a lot – self discipline, goal setting, determination and respect. Of course, I eventually outgrew my dreams of becoming one of my cartoon super heroes and realized that a lot of work has to be put in for promotions. But despite the increasing difficulty of training as one gets promoted, I believe my motivation has increased as well. I was determined to get better. My eagerness and interest as a child fueled my passion to learn and satisfied my need for competence.
Now in retrospect, I think much of these experiences I can and would like to attribute to my sensei (teacher) who had, at that time, used a lot of positive and negative reinforcements to push us in training. He kept reminding us of the truism no pain, no gain and that a tournament is first won early in our minds, second in preparations during training sessions. He also would hold back water breaks until he gets the kind of performance he expects from his students.
According to self-efficacy theory, a person’s willingness and perseverance to engage in a task rests on his belief about his ability to successfully perform the task. I remember training for hours and even extending training periods beyond regular schedule, not noticing the body pains and time spent at the gym. Unbelievably, we even asked for more. I think this is what FLOW in module 5 talks about where one feels “being in the zone.” Perhaps because sensei was adept in making us feel good about our skills, we were willing to push ourselves to the limit. We engaged in harder training periods because we were, as students, confident that we could do the challenges given to us.
I have also observed this in other athletes. I think that this is the value of engaging children in sports. Sports activities provide motivational opportunities as well as life lessons which may not be readily experienced within the four corners of the classroom.
I think inadequacy plagues a lot of young people today. They become limited by their thoughts due to some counter-productive experiences in their past. We hear statements such as I am not good enough, I am not as intelligent as they are, I am not as graceful as the others and my talent and skills are irrelevant. Many of them live a life of ifs: if only I could sing, if only I am good in academics, if only my parents were rich and the list of reasons goes on. This kind of thinking has crippled a lot of young minds.
My sensei engaged us to be better in what we did by using external motivators to wake up our intrinsic motivations in learning his art. His words of encouragement made us realize our self-efficacy and self-worth. We learned to be self-determined as young athletes then. And now that we have long left the dojos where we trained, I believe that every student has carried on the values as well as the experiences we had with sensei. I believe teachers have the power to bring out the best of their students by knowing how to motivate them. I had doubts in myself when I started martial arts as a young boy but I have accomplished many things because someone motivated me and believed in me.
Lou Juachon, Ph.D./UPOU EDS103: Theories of Learning, Module 3: Motivation