Academic journal article Business Communication Quarterly

Motivational Speaker

Academic journal article Business Communication Quarterly

Motivational Speaker

Article excerpt

"CHOOSE THE TEACHER, not the course," noted a colleague recently in summarizing his advice to students as they plan their schedules. Shortly thereafter, I read an article (not the first) in the "Money and Business" section of the Sunday New York Times describing the power of a motivational speaker, one of a growing list of charismatic consultants who energize their audiences to achieve personal and professional goals. These two items came back to me as I copyedited the "Focus on Teaching" column in this issue, which tackles the subject of motivating students.

One answer to engaging and directing student energies is my colleague's: go for the motivational speaker. You may already be such a teacher, someone who can launch students into prosperous careers and personal satisfaction, someone with the charisma that inspires. But even those who lack flair can follow, for example, the 10 pointers suggested by Li-Shih Huang for establishing a classroom environment that fosters student achievement and success.

Indeed, a growing body of pedagogical research emphasizes the need for students themselves to find inner motivation through active learning strategies. The teacher assumes a quieter background role in setting the stage for student-to-student interaction as well as individual self discovery, for helping students become, in Jim Dubinsky's phrase, "architects of their own learning process."

Setting the stage appropriately requires a delicate balancing act between providing too much structure and too many answers, which may lead to passivity, and too little structure, which may lead to revolt, I'm reminded of a question asked in interviews with applicants to our study abroad program: "If you were lost in London, would you consider that an adventure or a danger? …

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