As a child I loved the story of The Little Red Engine, puffing up the big hill encouraging and motivating himself to reach the top with the words “I think I can, I think I can…”. I wonder now if even then I subconsciously recognised the value of believing in oneself. His words became a mantra of mine, one I have revisited many times in my life’s journeys; many times as I navigate my most recent challenge of online learning; and one I use often to encourage the children I teach to draw on their own self- belief. As Albert Bandura tells us “an individual’s self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks, and challenges are approached” (Cherry, 2018). When ‘I think I can’, I usually do! At times, however, self-efficacy wanes, and on reflection these are the times when learning is most arduous. They are also the times I need to dig deep to remain optimistic and find the motivation to continue.
The Little red Engine is motivated by his personal desire to reach the top. Pew (2007) suggests motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. At different times we may depend upon either. “The benefit of intrinsic motivation is its availability and portability”. (Pew, 2007. p.17) External factors are not a determinant and therefore motivation is not inhibited. Intrinsically motivated learners tend to be more self-directed and independent in their learning. I, personally, try to draw on intrinsic motivation taking responsibility for my learning and seeking personal reward in new knowledge and skills.
Reflecting on our learning is also valuable in understanding. How can we improve if we do not take the time to consider what we have done.
What a refreshing view of teaching, learning and education is depicted in both John Marsden’s Candlebark School and the Fitzroy Community School. They share a strong focus on “an education of the whole person” as a foundation for learning and living. The empowerment that comes with responsibility, risk taking, independence, inquisitiveness, resourcefulness and HAPPINESS is reflected in the confidence, positive attitude, and abilities of the children within these schools. Motivation, self-direction and self-efficacy, abound.
I see it as no surprise that such influencing factors on personal learning space and disposition – Self-Efficacy, Self-direction & Self-reflection– all begin with the same pronoun ‘self’
“Paddle your own canoe” (Pew, 2007, p. )….what a great metaphor for ‘don’t rely on me, do it yourself’!
Candlebark and Fitzroy Community School focus on personal development. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cvujBUO0zQ
Cherry, K. (2017). Self Efficacy: Why Believing in Yourself Matters. Retrieved fromhttps://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-self-efficacy-2795954
Pappas, P. (2010). The Reflective Student: A Taxonomy of Reflection (Part 2). Retrieved fromhttp://peterpappas.com/2010/01/reflective-student-taxonomy-reflection-.html
Pew, S. (2007). Andragogy and Pedagogy as Foundational Theory for Student Motivation in Higher Education.Student Motivation, 2, 17-18.
Smith, M. (1996). Self-direction in learning. Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/self-direction-in-learning/