You walk into a certain class, you sit down, take out your notebook and pen… then struggle to stay motivated, and in some cases you struggle to simply stay awake. You leave this class and move on to the next one. In this class the time seems to literally fly by and the exit bells rings before you even realize the class was coming to an end.
So what happened here? Why is it such a struggle in one class and such a breeze in another?
We are talking about motivation here. According to social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman human emotion, reaction, and motivation are all contagious. He argues that it’s the reasons why companies higher motivational speakers, why comedians are funnier in person, and why sports fans go crazy when they are at the stadium. Think about the last football game you watched on television… you may have been excited, even yelled at the TV, but that doesn’t compare to the emotion that courses through you if you were seated on the 50 yard line.
Apply this to the educational setting. What Friedman is saying is that if we are born to “emulate the motivation and emotions of those around us” then a classroom setting which is energetic and inviting will directly lead to greater student success than one with constant ‘book’ work, notes, and dry lectures.
Even in subjects and content areas that students find less interesting, studies show that if the instructor is passionate about what they are teaching, that will have a direct impact on how students perceive and receive the intended information. It doesn’t mean that each student will have a new passion for Math, History, or Science, but it does imply that the emotions and mood of the teacher can have dramatic positive or negative effects on the classroom and on student achievement.