This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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Intrinsic Motivation: Creating Habits That Work In The Classroom!

Photo By: Alvimann

By: Jennyann Carthern 

Time and time again. I have this special knack for spotting out the creative students in a classroom. Psych! It’s not really a knack, but rather the behavior they exhibit while being involved in an activity. The creative student’s lose themselves completely in the creation process. Vanishing, into a whimsical place that only exists for them.The Wonderland or Oz effect I like to call it. I myself have drifted off to this place, while gazing into the eyes of my paintings.

Intrinsic Motivation is rooted in this place. It’s a powerful pull, you long to return to over and over again. So how can we get more students to take this journey?

It’s by creating new habits in the classroom, and inviting more experiential learning to take place, rather than seated learning, memorization, and test scores.

After School Programs do a great job creating experiences for their participants. They do this through recreation, game play, visual arts, and collaboration. Students also have a voice in the program, they are heard, by  helping design the process, and taking leadership in its creation.

In one instance. While helping students with homework, I noticed that many students didn’t know how to spell. So during the weekend I researched some activities and landed on some sort of theatrical scramble game. The game consisted of pre-writing 2 sets of letters from the alphabet on index cards. Then splitting the students into two teams, and assigning a leader. I’d say a word, and students had to work with their team to spell the word. If a word had a double letter. That student had to bounce back and forth between the spaces of that letters existence. Whichever team spelled it first, got the point! To this day, they’ve learned to spell, and remembered it, because they experienced it!

Now in a classroom environment, students are given the same set of words and told to write them ten times, put them in a sentence, find the definition, draw, memorize, and then take a spelling test. Some pass, some fail, but a week later. The student’s brain boards are completely blank. This idea of memorization, repetition and seated learning needs to change. It’s a habit that hasn’t learned it’s lesson!

New habits involve outdoor play, collaboration, and experiential learning that allow students to think on their feet, and generate ideas by way of imagination and play.Our brain freezes when it’s not in action. I really don’t believe we were meant to be sedentary robots. Humans are inventors, innovators, and problem solvers. We seek adventure, and journey out to find it. If that’s the case, why aren’t journeys taking place in the classroom?

After school programs are in the habit of teaching math, history, science, literature, and art by giving their students experiences they talk about, for years to come.Every student should have a chance to experience OZ on their way to Wonderland. How about we start navigating them in the right direction!


One Comment on “Intrinsic Motivation: Creating Habits That Work In The Classroom!”

  1. lmusic says:

    Jenny Ann ~
    What a vivid description of what works in arts learning classrooms, and why! I love how you raise the question oh “How do we get OUT of the habit of doing things that so clewarly do NOT work. That is a very important question to be raised.

    It seems to me that teachers need to experience the OZ effect, and just as students can be transformed by the experience of getting into a creative process. Have you chcked out the Integrated Learning Specialist Program? We are also having an arts learning retreat for teachers on May 19 in San Leandro. Tana Johnson can tell you more about that