One of my favourite Mommies has a son in Secondary 2 who was doing very badly in all his Humanities subjects. The poor child had studied so hard for Geography, History and Literature. He still managed to fail something. Mommy became worried to see her son drown his sorrows in a computer gaming marathon. She approached me for help.
At first, the problem looked so very big. I even suspected a gaming addiction. Mommy said that his personality had changed. I wasn't sure whether I could help but I did agree to set up an Expository Writing Workshop. It was a workshop with lego blocks, wooden blocks, pieces of coloured paper and raffia string. After the workshop, I was supposed to coach Mommy through the steps of helping her son.
After the workshop, I realised that it was all a tempest in a teapot. The poor boy had tried ever so hard and still failed. He decided that it was no point trying. After all, he had tried his best and couldn't make the grade. So, the logical thing was to find solace in a never ending stream of computer games.
He had no motivation to work.
Upon close analysis of his motivation levels, I realized that the boy had done badly because no one had ever given him clear guidance on expository writing. The skills of expository writing are critical to doing well in Geography, History and Literature. He stopped working because he had lost faith in his own hard work. He was working hard... but was he working right? He didn't know what was wrong. He had no solution for his poor grades.
He gave up and went gaming. Of course! I would probably have done the same!!
After being taught Expository Writing skills, he became like his old self again... hardworking and conscientious. He had begun to hope again. He knew how to fix his problems. It made sense to put effort into his work again because he knew what to do.
We fixed his motivation problems just by giving him a skill... and Mommy didn't even have to waste money on a parent coaching session.