I want to share with you one brilliant, yet perplexing interaction I recently had with a student. While working on trying to foster a relationship with one of my particularly unmotivated and disengaged students, we had shared many conversations together, and had come to the point where we could openly and honestly look at his behaviour and comment on the apathetic nature of much of it. I had tried in many ways to engage and motivate this student, both from an academic standpoint, and an emotional one. Towards the end of one of our conversations, he very eloquently stated the following paraphrased idea:
” I know that you are trying to help me Mr. D., but have you ever thought that maybe you are the one that needs the help. I look around and I see a lot of people stressed and upset. They’re always working or fighting or tired, and I don’t really want to be like that… at all. Even you seem pretty burnt out sometimes. The way I do things, there is no stress. I don’t worry and I enjoy myself a lot more than a lot of the people around me, especially my family. Maybe you guys got it all wrong. Maybe you need to be more like me. ”
In an effort to better serve all of my students I have done much research in the area of apathy and motivation to try and find systems and ideas that would help, especially in regards to counselling interventions or programs. Much to my surprise, my efforts have been relatively fruitless. There seems to be much research in relating apathy to early stages of depression or even schizophrenia, treatable with medications, and counselling support (Fallon Jr., 2003); conversely, research also suggests various methods of classroom instruction and set up, to aid engaging students who present as apathetic or unengaged (Dunleavy & Milton, 2008; Klem & Connell, 2004; Lipps et al., 2003). Lastly, there is much research explaining how making connections and staying engaged will help increase “education” and “success” rates later in life (Hagan & Parker,1999; Luthar & Ansary, 2005 ). Yet, when it comes to counselling interventions, or program ideas, there seems to have been little work done. Even the greatest teachers among us, using the latest research and technology in classroom practice, instruction and assessment, still face students who are neither engaged nor motivated.
I have tried to put together a counselling intervention looking at helping and supporting these types of students (and their teachers).
Part 2 will discuss the Theoretical Underpinning and Developed Interventions
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA