Exploring Motivation

As a parent, I care deeply about how my kids own their habits of learning. In grade school, I received the gift of violin lessons from age five through high school. Looking back, my capacity for music making has become one of my most cherished life skills. Music is just fun! Music brings people together. In my faith life, music helps our community to pray. In short, I have internalized my motivation to explore music making. Beyond violin, I now play guitar, piano, do music recording, sing and ukulele.

If I’m honest with myself, I can remember the times that practicing violin felt like a chore. I can recall those times that I got in trouble because I did not practice enough. As an adult, I now have an appreciation for the gift of habits and can see the value that music-making has created in my life. When you start learning a complex piece of music, you have to deal with the emotions of feeling “overloaded.” With great mentorship of my parents and teaching, I learned the gift of taking things slow. We explored ways to chop up a piece of music into small phrases and gain competency. To move fast in music-making, you have to start slow and correct.

Reflecting on my music journey, I can see the joy, benefits and value of musicianship clearly now. The eight-year-old Michael did not have that kind of motivation. Over the next few months, I’m hoping to study some stuff around motivation so that I have additional tools to serve my kids in their lifelong journey. In this blog, we commit to the mission of helping students love learning through making, engineering, and exploration. It’s hard to keep my kids motivated on their projects and activities at times. I have a little one taking violin lessons now. It’s a joy to see her grow. And it can feel like a challenge getting her to practice regularly. Every parent has their version of this. How do I get my kids to eat their vegetables?

My wife and I will often tell each other that “they don’t come out saints.” In this phrase, we acknowledge that mentorship and parenting are hard. I also acknowledge that good parenting requires healthy habits from myself. (prayer, reflection, planning, etc.)

In this post, I did some reflection over the following Edutopia post about student motivation. Will probably do more over the next month.

To Increase Student Engagement, Focus on Motivation by Nina Parrish.

The post reflects on the idea that students tend to have more motivation to explore if they have the gift of autonomy. In my favorite book, “Invent to learn”, they foster the idea that students should have the space to select meaningful “hands-on” creative projects. If my kids really want to engineer a skateboard, I should try to cheer them on. In theory, I should also support them as their walk through the related math/construction skills. Secondly, students feel motivated when they feel like they’re gaining ground on their skills. (i.e. growing in mastery) For some kids, it’s hard for them to chop big projects into smaller stories or tasks. I probably should use my Scrum master skills on them to help them decompose problems more. That might be a fun experiment I can do soon. 🙂 Of course, kids feel motivated when they know that you care. That’s a good reminder.

To celebrate my wife a bit, I feel she did a great job inspiring motivation for our oldest son Peter. Peter has shown great curiousity around marine biology for years now. They also have tons of quality time bird watching too. As I write this blog post, we’re picking up Peter from a cool marine science camp down in the Florida keys. ( Pigeion Key ) I appreciate my wife for finding this amazing camp that empowered Peter to explore his natural curiousity. Picking him up, he’s on fire and excited for all the science and creatures he’s explored this week. Go Dr. Rosario!! I’m thankful that he had this life changing experience.

  • As a honest student of becoming a better parent, I would ask for your ideas on inspiring motivation.
  • What did a teacher or mentor do to inspire you?
  • What has worked for your kids? Very open to your inspirations.

Have a great day!