WHAT is all the fuss over the paper chase? Is that all that matters? 10 and 12 As? What has the Malaysian education system come to? Where does motivation lie in such cases?
Motivation can be influenced greatly by a student's purpose in learning a concept or subject. Often, difficult subjects are forced upon them (for example Mathematics, Chemistry and History). Frustration can occur when it is a subject we dislike, feel inadequate in, or have had past failures in. Continuing negative motivators can drastically inhibit learning and success.
Motivation is said to be intrinsic when one finds satisfaction in performing the task. Learning through reading, attending classes, imitation and trial and error can be sources of pleasure. This type of motivation is conducive to memorisation of knowledge, curiosity, research and creativity. It is generally associated with real and sustainable learning that is oriented towards meaning and deep understanding.
Motivation is said to be extrinsic when it is driven by the desire to obtain a reward that is not related to the task, or by the fear of an unpleasant consequence. Pleasing parents, having a good job, having a well-paying job, earning prestige and receiving honours, or the fear of disappointing or failing and being called a nobody are examples of external motivations. Extrinsic motivation is not conducive to quality learning. It is a superficial learning method that is oriented towards passing exams. It is also a source of stress.
We currently have an education system where failure is not an option -- students are pressured to work harder when they know they will not advance to the next level because of their poor performance. Because of this belief that studying for examinations will get them to the next level, there seems to be very little motivation in applying what they have learned to their everyday lives.
I see post-Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia students who come into foundation programmes on the back of flying colours but, sad to say, have a lack of accountability in other aspects aside from their education.
Who is to blame here? It is the students, the parents and the education system itself. The dependence on achieving high scores in examinations is a deplorable system, which eventually undermines the school system itself.
Take for example, Chinese and South Korean students. They are taught to pay close attention to the "costs and benefits" of studying hard. They also pay attention to the benefits of setting goals, being self-motivated and understanding that the key to achieving goals is a higher education.
In the United States, attending university itself is a motivation, as a university education opens up doors and opportunities towards achieving the American dream.
To me, the opposite seems to happen in Malaysia. By making entry into a Malaysian university so difficult, we limit and exclude a large percentage of the population from reaching their potential. It is the quality of education, not the brand, that should determine a graduate's hiring potential.
If we cannot provide the skills and values to the younger generation, why should we expect them to be motivated to achieve the bare minimum -- a quality education?