I was recently listening to an NPR discussion about under-performing schools in a large city and the debate of the school choice program. Under the school choice program, parents, with children in under-performing schools, have the option to select a school which is considered to be performing at or above expected standards. While this provides opportunities to students in “better” school districts, what is the option doing to school districts being left behind? There is ongoing concern about how under-performing schools will ever be able to raise the standards to higher levels if less funding is allotted to them. This made me think about how this problem can be solved. The question is not “where can students achieve more?”, but should be “what is driving their education”. In the under-performing schools, the students, and possibly educators, are driven by the need for survival. Many of the students have more pressing issues than their grades and where they will go after high school; it is a day to day struggle for survival. From the other perspective, many of the students in the performing schools and definitely educators are driven by the need for success. Rather than extracting students, the focus should be more on the process of changing the mindset of all learners to be driven by the need for success rather than the need for survival.
It is hard work, but perhaps the focus should be on barriers to success. I am, of course, always thinking in terms of projects and management.
The concept can be applied to clients as well as students. Everyone has worked with people who are so caught up in all of their tasks that they are merely surviving each day. The real work, to be better at what they do, never seems doable. So what can be done about under-performing schools and under-performing co-workers or clients?
Rather than passing the work off to co-workers who are guaranteed to succeed, we should be taking the time to advise and lead to demonstrate what success looks like. Focus on smaller, attainable goals which lead to success and shift the mindset for the drive to succeed in all tasks, which will lead to greater opportunities for success. You must first feel success in order to be driven by it.
Are you barely keeping your head above water because you have so much work to do – driven to survive each day, struggling to see the forest for the trees?
Are you purposeful and insightful to accomplish the things that matter – driven to succeed and accomplish the next milestone?
Reflect on your own motivation – What Drives You?