Announcement: Andy’s New Blog

Dear reader of “The Quest for a New Life,”

Although I still will be writing here about the intersection between Christian spirituality and Psychology, in general, I’m transitioning more of my writing to a different location. In this new blog, I will write regularly (1-2 times per week) about mystery and awe, in particular. I have developed this new blog with the intention that it would be a place where individuals such as yourself can learn about, be stimulated by, and meaningfully discuss that which most evokes a sense of mystery and awe, as well as related states. The new site features photos and will include guest contributors. Please check out the new site and consider receiving e-mail notifications of new posts by providing your e-mail address at the upper right of the first page. No spam e-mails will be sent, just notifications of new posts to the blog.

Here’s the link: Reflections on Mystery and Awe

Thank you for your interest in my writing.

Andy

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Random Quotes about the Mystery of God

“If you have understood, then what you have understood is not God.” (St. Augustine)

“No matter how hard I try to say something true about God, the reality of God will eclipse my best words.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

“The parts of the Christian story that had drawn me into the Church were not the believing parts but the beholding parts. . . While I understood both why and how the early church had decided to wrap those mysteries in protective layers of orthodox belief, the beliefs never seized my heart the way the mysteries did.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

“This darkness and this cloud is always between you and God, no matter what you do, and it prevents you from seeing him clearly by the light of understanding in your reason and from experiencing him in sweetness of love in your affection. So set yourself to rest in this darkness as long as you can, always crying out after him whom you love. For if you are to experience him or to see him at all, insofar as it is possible here, it must always be in this cloud and in this darkness.” (Anonymous author of “The Cloud of Unknowing”)

“I was moved, for the most part without any inkling of it, closer and closer to a feeling for that Mystery out of which the church arose in the first place until, finally, the Mystery itself came to have a face for me, and the face it came to have for me was the face of Christ.” (Frederick Buechner)

“If it is true that God exceeds all our efforts to contain God, then is it too big a stretch to declare that dumbfoundedness  is what all Christians have most in common? Or that coming together to confess all that we do not know is at least as sacred an activity as declaring what we think we do know?” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit mean that the mystery beyond us, the mystery among us, and the mystery within us are all the same mystery.” (Frederick Buechner)

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An Overview of My Philosophy of Teaching

Frederick Buechner referred to a calling as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” In this sense, I have felt called to college teaching, particularly in Psychology and at a community college. For all that this has meant, I feel profoundly thankful.

Parker Palmer’s book “The Courage to Teach” probably has influenced by philosophy of teaching more than anything else. Perhaps what most has influenced me in Palmer’s thinking is his understanding of “subject-centered education,” at the center of which belongs, what he calls, “great things.” By this, Palmer means “the subjects around which the circle of seekers has always gathered – not the disciplines that study these subjects, not the texts that talk about them, not the theories that explain them, but the things themselves.” He believes, as I do, that putting these subjects, as much as possible, into the center of a class holds the key to making all other learning outcomes more possible. When there is a focus on “great things,” there is a natural urge to ask and discuss meaningful questions. Critical thinking becomes necessary and valuable, as we seek to understand. In this context, knowledge of what is known in a discipline becomes particularly welcome. Application becomes especially desirable.

When I think of my overall subject area, Psychology, the “great things” that I most want to feature in my courses tend to concern human beings, their behavior, and its’ causes. There are a variety of ways in which I have attempted to center courses around these subjects. Specifically, I often rely on teaching strategies that feature cases and their behavior, leading me to incorporate experiential activities, demonstrations, stories, interview projects, panel discussions, case analyses, and service learning into my courses. Because of my interest in social issues and justice, many of these cases are selected because they are vulnerable to suffering or prejudice. In this, I am guided by the thinking of Nicholas Wolsterstorff, who believes that “the purpose of colleges and universities is to present students with the face of suffering, and then convey that they can do something about it.” Controversies, “big” questions, and even research studies similarly can be used to bring attention to “great things,” particularly when they relate to students’ interests. Finally, there are times when it seems much more powerful to witness behavior and its history on site. This has led me to feature study abroad opportunities and field trips in my work in recent years.

In all of this, I hope to fulfill the dream of William Butler Yeats when he suggests that “education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

It is a common source of joking and teasing in my relationships with collaborators and family that I am paid for this work. More than anything else, it has been a joy and privilege.

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My Response to Death

“One of the profoundest features of the Christian and Jewish way of being-in-the-world and being-in-history is remembering. . . We are to hold the past in remembrance and not let it slide away. For in history we find God.” (Nicholas Wolsterstorff, “Lament for a Son”)

When I was very young, I was what most people would call a “mama’s boy.” I have very fond memories going to elementary school with my mom (she volunteered a lot in my school), and returning home during the day to have lunch with her (we lived only a few blocks away). I remember hanging out with her as she prepared meals, getting haircuts from her, playing cribbage, delivering newspapers around town, and cuddling with her while we watched movies. My friends thought she was a “cool” mom, and she took pride in “mothering” them in one way or another.

When I was 11 or 12, I remember something being wrong. It was Christmas Eve and our family went on a sudden trip to a Doctor’s office in another town. Later, I found out that my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t really know what that meant, but eventually, it led her to lose all her hair and a lot of her strength. She didn’t want anyone to feel pity for her, and she didn’t want me to see her in her weakness, so she tried to keep this to herself. When I was 14, she died.

I remember the feeling of darkness and isolation on the day of the funeral. The parish priest was a close friend and he tried to lighten the mood during his sermon, but mostly, I felt sad and confused. I cried during the sermon and at the time of burial. Later, I remember delivering newspapers one day without my mom and it suddenly came to me how much I missed her, and I cried. People later said that they wondered about why I didn’t express more emotion, which made me feel like I wasn’t coping in the “right way” and probably made me feel even more awkward about it all. I was just trying to get through it and understand. I didn’t feel the need to share.

Coping with Loss

I suppose I’ve always struggled with being vulnerable, within myself and particularly around others. Maybe because of some of the feedback I received, I long have wondered whether I coped with my mom’s death in an unhealthy manner, maybe helping to explain some of the struggles I’ve had in my adult life.

These concerns made me all the more sensitive to my response to my dad’s death last year. For various reasons, this death was less traumatic to me (I was older, he was older, and it wasn’t a surprise). Still, my dad’s death did trigger a similar set of struggles and questions in me. Something that I am learning is that people respond to death differently, and that this is okay.

Soon after the passing of my dad, a friend passed along an article written by Kelly Wilson that has come to be very important to me. In many ways, the insights in the article have provided a structure for me to think about how to cope with loss. In particular, I resonate with Wilson when he writes:

“I find myself wondering about people reading this right now. Do you know about things fallen? About things irrevocably lost? I wonder if you would be willing to stop a moment to acknowledge that loss, to know its face when you see it. If you could grow something new and beautiful from that loss, that could honor what has fallen, what might that be?”

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I am working to better acknowledge my true feelings about difficult life experiences such as the death of my mom and dad. My tendency is to think, instead of to feel, and to look toward the future, instead of the past. This is not all bad, I believe, and I will engage in this kind of response below, in fact. However, I also have come to appreciate the wisdom of C. S. Lewis’s reflection about his response to his wife’s death, in his book, “A Grief Observed:”

“Do I hope that if feeling disguises itself as thought I shall feel less? Aren’t all these notes the senseless writhings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it? Who still thinks there is some device (if only he could find it) which will make pain not to be pain?”

It also seems important for me to remember and honor my mom and dad, to “grow something new and beautiful” in the space of my loss. It has been difficult for me to know how to adequately do so, but I am trying. I think this post is one attempt, and there are others that I feel good about as well, such as remembering my mom and dad as I do things I would have done with them, including playing cribbage on the same cribbage board we played on when I was young and going out for a Lenten fish fry with my brother and my family. I am learning the sacredness of the gravesite, a place “where an important part of our lives lies buried,” as William Kent Krueger writes in “Ordinary Grace,” and I hope to acknowledge this more often in the years ahead.

Responding to Mystery

Probably the most difficult part about death for me personally has been how unknowable it is. There are different elements to this unknowability. Frederick Bauerschmidt writes in his book “Why the Mystics Matter Now” that:

“Perhaps it is because death involves a massive ‘undoing’ of the self. Death involves a ‘disspiriting’ and decomposition of the body in which the fundamental structures of our lives as living beings break down. . . The unthinkableness of death indicates [that] in some sense death remains profoundly unnatural to us. . . Perhaps death is unthinkable because it would force us to think of ourselves as ultimately, finally, completely without control.”

Maybe because of these difficulties, the responses to death that most have resonated with me acknowledge its mysteries. After all, we cannot know death until we have experienced it for ourselves. For example, I love what Parker Palmer writes in this meditation:

“What I know for sure is this: We come from mystery and we return to mystery. I arrived here with no bad memories of wherever I’d come from, so I have no good reason to fear the place to which I’ll return.”

In some ways, this is comforting to me because it seems so indisputable. We all have this experience of coming from the unknown, and it is helpful for me to think that, in some way or other, it is to this same unknown to which we will return. C. S. Lewis similarly writes about his wife’s realization, as she was dying, that she was going “alone into the Alone.” I ask myself something similar when I ponder whether I can trust the unknown and the Unknowable. One of the pressing questions on my heart about all of this, in other words, is whether Mystery is trustworthy. In the end, I believe that it is.

In fact, much of this points to a deep longing I have for Something into which I can place my trust and hope, Something that transcends life and overcomes death. Reflecting on the life and thought of Thomas Merton, Bauerschmidt addresses this in the following way:

“When we look in faith and hope, we can see something else, something no less dark, but something that can be trusted. We see the “you” to whom Merton addresses his prayer, the God to whom he confesses his lostness. This is not a god that lifts me out of our world and gives me an all-seeing view of the journey ahead. Rather God, for Merton, is the one whom I trust while still in darkness. God is the one who is ‘ever with me,’ not only in the darkness, but as the darkness, for what ultimately makes my life incomprehensible to me is that, at its root, it is a gift given by the God that no human mind can grasp. God is dark to me because I cannot imagine one who would ‘never leave me to face my perils alone.’. . . It is not the shadowy darkness of death, the darkness of light blocked, but the darkness of a light so vast that we are blinded, and so must trust that light to lead us on the path.”

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke similarly imbues death and life with sacred significance, ultimately connected with a Divine source, when he writes:

“As swiftly as the world is changing,                                                                                                     like racing clouds,                                                                                                                                   all that is finished                                                                                                                                   falls home to the ancient source.

Above the change and the loss,                                                                                                           farther and freer,                                                                                                                                     your singing continues,                                                                                                                       god of the lyre.

How can we embrace our sorrows                                                                                                       or learn how to love,                                                                                                                                 or see what we lose

when we die? Only your song                                                                                                               over the earth                                                                                                                                           honors our life and makes it holy.”

Making Life Meaningful

Much of the above suggests that part of what makes death important is in how it clarifies life. This is demonstrated in one of my favorite movie clips of all time, from the movie, “Braveheart:”

Rabbi Harold Kushner makes a similar case in his book, “When All You’ve Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough,” arguing that many of our difficulties with death actually aren’t as much about death as about life. That is, we often are afraid of death because we are uncertain about what to do to make our lives meaningful. He writes:

“What are the things you absolutely must have and do so that you can feel that you have lived your life and not wasted it?”

This line of questions completely resonates with me. Much of my life is oriented around trying to discern what constitutes my mission in life, what I want to happen next in my life, and what I am called to do and be. Although I often don’t know the answers to these questions at any given time, orienting my life around them as much as I do has been tremendously helpful over the years, as answers do eventually “bubble up” to guide me. I don’t think I would have thought as seriously about them if I hadn’t had the experience of my mom’s death, in particular, when I was fairly young. In other words, death has taught me to “number my days,” as Psalm 90 encourages.

One particular way in which I have found meaning through death is to recognize the importance of acknowledging the suffering of others, particularly when their loved ones die. When my wife and I have suffered over the years, it has been the surprising gestures of kindness, often from people from which we would have never expected to receive anything, that have provided us with the glimpses of grace that have really helped to sustain us with goodness. When I am in doubt about whether or not to acknowledge someone’s suffering, this has taught me to error on the side of “showing up” in a meaningful and appropriate way.

Finally, in the grand scheme of everything, death has put life into a bigger perspective for me. As Parker Palmer continues in the reflection I mentioned above, “standing closer to the reality of death awakens my awe at the gift of life.”

In light of death, it is particularly important for me to be thankful for every day that I have, every amount of health that I possess, every person who graces my life. This is because any one of these can be lost at a moment’s notice. Not everyone experiences the blessings that I do, and the only appropriate response really is thanks. The life that all of us have truly is a gift, and I believe we all are called to “pass this forward” by bringing gifts of generosity to others. In this, death truly is one of the best teachers for how to live life well now.

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A Reflection on Extreme Prejudice and Violence

In the past several months, it has been difficult to scan through news without reading about some horrific incidence of international violence. An image that recently has haunted me is one of 21 Coptic Christians about to be beheaded by masked members of ISIS in Egypt. Such incidents leave me with a sense of helplessness, as I know I am basically powerless to do anything that could directly help. Yet, reflecting on incidents of violence elsewhere has made me more sensitive to processes that relate to prejudice and violence around and within me. Here there seems to be more opportunity for control.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the number of hate groups in the United States has increased by 56% since 2000. Related to this but more common to everyday experience are pervasive stereotypes in which members of a group are judged to be “bad” in some way because of their group membership. For instance, floating around in many people’s minds are prejudgments about members of religious groups such as “all Atheists are angry,” “all Christians are anti-gay/lesbian,” and “all Muslims are dangerous.” When there are pervasive negative associations with members of groups such as this, misunderstanding, segregation, self-fulfilling prophecies, and even acts of violence become more possible.

It has taken me years to learn what seems completely obvious to many others; that is, that there is diversity within any group and that each individual carries a mix of good and bad. Part of my story is that I was raised in a small, homogenous community in rural Minnesota where, as a child, I didn’t realize that others existed who were not German Catholic. In fact, I clearly remember the surprise that I experienced when my dad explained to me that Lutherans exist! One of the most important aspects for me attending various public schools was the opportunity to become acquainted with people who are different from me. This has helped me to learn the values of pluralism, something I increasingly have come to appreciate is not as possible in other parts of the world.

As a psychologist interested in issues of religious prejudice and violence, it seems to me that the processes I went through may contain seeds of hope more generally. Considerable psychological research shows that contact with members of different groups – or, better yet, friendship across group lines – is one of the best ways to promote the shared sense of humanity that is so important to promoting peaceful and effective relations. For example, in a classic study, researchers showed that encouraging competition across groups in a boys’ summer camp increased conflict, but that this conflict could be eased by having campers work together on projects where they needed to pool resources (such as moving a stalled truck). In another study, scientists found that prejudice could be reduced in the classroom by assigning students from different backgrounds to projects that depended on mutual cooperation. Other research demonstrates that the stress hormones that are released at first when interacting with someone from a different background decrease substantially after having talked about meaningful topics for three 45-minute sessions.

One of the great problems in reducing prejudice and violence, then, is getting those people who otherwise would not be acquainted with others from different groups to have these kinds of experiences. For instance, how do we nurture collaborations across religious lines, racial groups, sexual proclivities, and political orientations so that individuals get to really know each other as fellow humans? Often times, well-intended programs designed to teach or encourage pluralism “preach to the choir” and do not reach those most isolated.

Public education may be one of the best opportunities we have to help people to form attitudes and habits that decrease prejudice and violence. Students from different backgrounds can be put into situations where they must work together toward common goals. They can be exposed to people from different backgrounds where such backgrounds are underrepresented in their communities. I recognize that public school teachers have a lot “on their plates;” to me, this demonstrates just how valuable they are to our communities. However, as someone who teaches in a public college, I find the prospect of using my classroom as a mechanism for promoting peace to be extremely meaningful and hopeful. As Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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Listening to Your Life

I don’t think I’ve ever been told by two respected mentors, independently of each other, to read an author. Yet, this has been true for me this year in the case of Frederick Buechner. I’ve been reflecting all summer on Buechner’s daily meditations. This is an unusual blog post, but I want to list my favorite Buechner quotes below, without much commentary. Really I want to have these for my reference, but I may as well share them. Readers of my blog are likely to benefit from them as well. 

Much of Buechner’s writings can be summarized in this first quotation:

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” 

This is elaborated below in different domains…

1. A Doorway Opens.

“At its heart, I think, religion is mystical. Moses went whith his flocks in Midian, Buddha under the Bo tree, Jesus up to his knees in the waters of the Jordan; each of them responds to something for which words like shalom, oneness, God even, are only pallid, alphabetic souvenirs. ‘I have seen things,’ Aquinas told a friend, ‘that makes all my writings seem like straw.’ Religion as institution, as ethics, as dogma, as social action – all of this comes later and in the long run maybe counts for less. Religions start, as Frost said poems do, with a lump in the throat, to put it mildly, or with the bush going up in flames, the rain of flowers, the dove coming down out of the sky.”

2. Hidden Gifts.

“Which of us can look at our own religion or lack of it without seeing in it the elements of wish fulfillment? Which of us can look back at our own lives without seeing in them the role of blind chance or dumb luck? But faith, says the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, is ‘the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,’ and looking back at those distant years I chose not to deny, either, the compelling sense of an unseen giver and a series of hidden gifts as not only another part of their reality, but the deepest part of all.”

3. God.

“There must be a God because (a) since the beginning of history the most variegated majority of people have intermittently believed there was; (b) it is hard to consider the vast and complex structure of the universe in general and of the human mind in particular without considering the possibility that they issued from some ultimate source, itself vast, complex, and somehow mindful; (c) built into the very being of even the most primitive man there seems to be a profound psychophysical need or hunger for something like truth, goodness, love, and – under one alias or another – for God himself; and (d) every age and culture has produced mystics who have experienced a Reality beyond reality and have come back using different words and images but obviously and without collusion describing with awed adoration the same Indescribability.

Statements of this sort and others like them have been advanced for thousands of years as proofs of the existence of God. A twelve-year-old child can see that no one of them is watertight. And even all of them taken together won’t convince anybody unless his predisposition to be convinced outweights his predisposition not to be.

It is as impossible to prove or disprove that God exists beyond the various and conflicting ideas people have dreamed up about him as it is to prove or disprove that Goodness exists beyond the various and conflicting ideas people have dreamed up about what is good…

All-wise. All-powerful. All-loving. All-knowing. We bore both God and ourselves to death with our chatter. God cannot be expressed but only experienced.”

4. The Sound of God’s Voice.

“I believe that we know much about about God than we admit that we know, than perhaps we altogether know that we know. God speaks to us, I would say, much more often than we realize or than we choose to realize. Before the sunsets every evening, he speaks to each of us in an intensely personal and unmistakable way. His message is not written out in starlight, which in the long run would make no difference; rather it is written out for each of us in the humdrum, helter-skelter events of each day. It is a message that in the long run might just make all the difference.

Who knows what he will say to me today or to you today or into the midst of what kind of unlikely moment he will choose to say it. Not knowing is what makes today a holy mystery as every day is a holy mystery. But I believe that there are some things that by and large God is always saying to each of us. Each of us, for instance, carries around inside, I believe, a certain emptiness – a sense that something is missing, a restlessness, the deep feeling that somehow all is not right inside his skin. . . Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.

But he also speaks to us about ourselves, about what he wants us to do and what he wants us to become; and this is the area where I believe that we know so much more about him than we admit even to ourselves, where people hear God speak even if they do not believe in him. A face comes toward us down the street. Do we raise our eyes or do we keep them lowered, passing by in silence? Somebody says something about somebody else, and what he says happens to be not only cruel but also funny, and everybody laughs. Do we laugh, too, or do we speak the truth?. . . Sometimes when we are alone, thoughts come swarming into our heads like bees – some of them destructive, ugly, self-defeating thoughts, some of them creative and glad. Which thoughts do we choose to think then, as much as we have the choice? Will we be brave today or a coward today? Not in some big way probably but in some little foolish way, yet brave still. Will we be honest today or a liar?. . . Will we be a friend or cold as ice today?

All the absurd little meetings, decisions, inner skirmishes that go to make up our days. It all adds up to very little, and yet it all adds up to very much. Our days are full of nonsense, and yet not, because it is precisely into the nonsense of our days that God speaks to us words of great significance – not words that are written in the stars but words that are written into the raw stuff and nonsense of our days, which are not nonsense just because God speaks into the midst of them. All the words that he says, to each of us differently, are ‘be brave, be merciful, feed my lambs, press on toward the goal.'”

5. Vocation.

“It comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a man is called to by God.

There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest.

By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.

Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

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Educating the Struggling

It has long been known that American students, on average, tend to perform worse on international tests of achievement than students in other developed countries. In a recent article in the Star Tribune (“Finland not an apt mold for U.S. schools”), Robert Shumer notes that when the poorest schools are removed from these analyses, American schools perform the best in the world. He concludes, “all things considered, perhaps the U.S. education system is actually doing well.” Although he makes a valid point, no attempt is made to explain or propose solutions for those who most struggle, disproportionately the poor. 

Newly published research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may help. In this landmark study, 11,320 cadets enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point rated their reasons for being there. One set of motives was “internal.” With these motives, the rewards of an activity follow naturally from engaging in the activity. For example, a cadet who wants to be trained as a leader in the military would naturally do so in the process of being a student at West Point. Another set of motives was “instrumental.” These motives provide a means to some other end, such as a good job after graduation. Results showed that the more that cadets endorsed internal motives for attending West Point, the more likely they were to receive early recommendations for promotion and the more likely they were to re-enlist after their years of mandatory service were complete. Maybe more surprisingly, the more that cadets endorsed instrumental motives, the worse they did on every measure being studied.

Obviously, there are many differences between the challenges faced by West Point cadets and average American students. However, the processes that explain achievement may be very similar. In both cases, there are desirable external consequences that ultimately follow successful completion of school, such as greater likelihood of career success and a good salary. Those who do well are less likely to become preoccupied with external consequences such as these, however, instead focusing on internal motives. More than likely, this means that they will not stop at the minimum amount of work required to earn an external incentive. Because they are more likely to experience rewards that come directly from tasks themselves, internally motivated individuals are more likely to spend more time on them, building skills, and ultimately achieving more.

Unfortunately, however, it seems that the encouragement many struggling students receive is to learn for instrumental reasons, not internal ones. Parents, teachers, and administrators often seek to motivate struggling students, in particular, to study so that they can get good grades, get into a good program, eventually make good money, and maybe lift themselves out of poverty. Former Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak and current Executive Director of Generation Next, a Minneapolis organization that seeks to close the achievement gap, for instance, has publically emphasized the importance of helping poorer kids get an education so that they can get good jobs. Although surely well-intentioned, emphasizing instrumental motives for learning ironically may undermine students’ long-term motivation and achievement. Rarely is there a message that struggling students would do well to learn because learning is intrinsically interesting or meaningful. Strangely enough, only when instrumental consequences are minimized in people’s minds are they most likely to be ultimately realized.

There are many factors that are likely to influence student achievement, ranging from biological factors to students’ attention to detail to various cultural and familial factors. In the end, however, only when individuals identify that they are curious, engaged, lifelong learners will they ever be able to achieve well in any meaningful long-term way. The earlier and more consistently our young people are encouraged to appreciate that learning can be internally rewarding, the better.

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