Motivation inspires adults to begin learning and encourages them to continue on in the learning process. The power of motivation cannot be underestimated. A wonderful example of the power of motivation is Clarence Brazier of Huntsville. Mr. Brazier, at 100 years old, won the 2006 Canada Post Literacy Award for Individual Achievement. Mr. Brazier was motivated to learn to read at 93 years of age with the support of his daughter and the Muskoka Literacy Council.
Mr. Brazier was motivated to learn because he wanted to remain as independent as possible. As noted on the website of Canada Post: “When his wife died after 64 years of marriage, Clarence decided he finally had to learn how to read. He was 93. Publicity about his literacy journey resulted in speaking engagements at schools and seniors' clubs, and Clarence happily became a "poster boy" for literacy. Now nearly 100, Clarence says every story he reads is a new joy and every word is a small blessing”.
This, and stories like it, prove that with the right motivation, people will do extraordinary things!
Adults learn best when they are motivated to do so. Motivation may come from within, or a critical event may trigger it. As well, motivation can be provided externally by family, friends, a community organization, social agency, the work place or other sources. An understanding of learner motivation should play a significant role in determining the strategies that literacy agencies use to retain learners. Motivation is very powerful – after all, how many of us procrastinate or simply avoid things that we simply do not want to do? Wanting to do something makes accomplishing a task so much more meaningful and achievable!
Practitioners should build on student motivation by:
- Ensuring that learning is relevant to student goals
- Pointing out successes
- Providing regular acknowledgement of hard work and achievements
- Encouraging students to take on new challenges
- Encouraging students to increase their level of involvement with the program
Lindsay Kennedy, in Community Literacy of Ontario's “Skills for the Future,” noted that, in general, motivation can be influenced by:
- The amount of energy and effort that is required to achieve a goal
- The fact that people change their minds about what they want
- How someone feels (mentally, physically)
- The personal attachment to achieving the goal
- Friends, family, job, and normal life factors
Primary Motivators for Contacting a Literacy Program
In ABC Life Literacy's “Who Wants to Learn?” people were asked about their primary motivation for contacting a literacy organization.
|Primary Motivation for Contacting a Literacy Program
|Job-related (of those with this particular motivation, 74% wanted help to get a job, 14% wanted help to keep a job, and 14% wanted help to get a promotion)
|Upgrade for retraining (for example improving reading skills before registering for a credit program)
|Daily (filling out forms, banking); social (increasing social participation); family (upgrading for the sake of children or because of the urging of family members)
|Personal well-being (for example, increasing self-confidence)
(Note: Percentages do not equal exactly 100% because of rounding).
The Ontario Literacy Coalition's “Seeing the Need; Meeting the Need” found that the top expectations from enrolling in a literacy program were:
- Better employment prospects (85%)
- Increasing confidence and motivation (61%)
- Increasing the chance of getting into credit or diploma programs (50%)
- Gaining better computer and Internet skills (34%)
- Increasing literacy skills (32%)
top of page