Yordi Verkroost

The Connection Between Learning and Motivation

"What are you doing to stay motivated at the end of the academic year?"

Check-in questions like these come in all shapes and sizes. I must admit that when I'm in a workshop and the host starts the session with one of them, I usually zone out. Why spend time on these mandatory ice-breakers when I'm eager to dive into the topic I came for?

But then, I did care about this one.

I even used a brand new page in my precious paper notebook to write down a thought that occurred to me. Indeed, what keeps me motivated at the end of my first year as a software development teacher? Do I need extra effort to stay motivated, or does it come naturally?

Interesting... A bit of reflection made me realize that the need for extra effort depends on timing and context. When you start a new job, there's no need to put extra focus on keeping motivated. Because at that time, everything you're doing is new and likely outside your comfort zone. And that, by definition, is a time when you're learning. I'm a life-long learner, and anything new excites me enough by itself. No need for extra, added motivation there.

When timing is different, things might change. A couple of years from now, when I've already done everything once before and there is real risk of switching to auto-pilot, the context changes. The environment is now one where I'm not learning anything new anymore. When that happens, extra effort to motivate myself is necesary. I then need to go the extra mile to change the environment so that learning happens naturally again.

And now that I think of it, those check-in questions might not be that bad after all. I need to change my approach and use them as a means for personal learning and reflection.

Motivation through learning Image created by DALL·E, an AI image generator by OpenAI.

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