10
Socializing Uninterested
or Alienated Students

Apathy, not discouragement, is the ultimate motivational problem facing teachers. Students who display learned helplessness, failure syndrome, or related performance concerns frequently lose their focus on learning and require special motivational treatment beyond what is needed for the class as a whole (see chapter 5). However, these students usually value learning and would like to be able to complete learning activities successfully.

In contrast, apathetic students are uninterested in or even alienated from school learning: They don't find it meaningful or worthwhile, don't want to engage in it, don't value it even when they know that they can achieve success with reasonable effort, and may even resist it if they fear that it will lead to unwanted responsibilities or make them into something that they do not want to become (Goodnow, 1996). You will need to make sustained efforts to resocialize such students' attitudes and beliefs. More specifically, you will need to show them what it means to engage in academic activities with motivation to learn, nurture their desire to do so, and follow up with appropriate structuring and scaffolding of their learning efforts.

Students who have not developed motivation-to-learn schemas tend to view school activities as imposed demands rather than as learning opportunities, and thus to engage in them (if at all) only to the extent needed to garner acceptable grades and stay out of trouble. They give little consideration to learning goals, let alone to appreciating the value of the learning or taking pride in their accomplishments.

There is a dearth of theory-based research on strategies for dealing with uninterested or alienated students. However, it is possible to suggest several sets of principles based on what is known about the development and social

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