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s/o of getting to the Ivy League--How do you produce a kid with that kind of drive?


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Let me start by saying that I have no concrete goal of getting my girls to the Ivys (Ivies?). I would love that, and I do fantasize about it a bit :lol: But if they ended up choosing a different route, I'm OK with it. However, I see it as my job to give them the education and provide them with the opportunities that would prepare them for an Ivy League university should they so choose.

 

That said, I really want them to value education and hunger for more. At this point, I am, as one poster in that thread said, pushing and pulling them along. Based on what I see right now, DD9 hungers for nothing. At the first obstacle in her path, she drops what she's doing, at what seems to be no real emotional cost to her.

 

I know that she's only 9, but I wonder whether this kind of drive is something that usually manifests itself later on (someone in the Ivy League thread mentioned middle school) or whether I would expect to see signs of it now. Even if it's something that shows up later on, how can I, as a parent AND teacher, foster the desire for knowledge rather than simply making school the daily chore that must be gotten through so she can go to college?

 

I know this is probably one of our Great Questions: How do we help our kids develop an intrinsic desire for knowledge and the self-motivation to learn? Has anyone actually figured it out?! If you've had success in this area (or even just a plan for the future!), I'd love to hear about it. And if you think it's a nature vs. nurture thing, please share your thoughts on that too.

 

TIA!

Edited by melissel
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Oh, I don't know, lol.

I think a lot of it is individual personality, but I'm sure parenting helps. I'm constantly pointing out everyday things my kids have done because of solid learning/practice. Ds's baseball pitching has improved - Look how that hard work paid off! Dd makes an excellent snickerdoodle - Look how those fractions helped! Other dd makes a sign for her room - Look how that copywork has helped you! Blah, blah, blah. ;)

 

To be fair, my oldest soaks up knowledge but hates hard work. My second is a workhorse. My third hates anything that is too obviously academic. All three DO talk the talk though, so I'm hoping everyone will walk the walk at some point! :D

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Oh, I don't know, lol.

I think a lot of it is individual personality, but I'm sure parenting helps. I'm constantly pointing out everyday things my kids have done because of solid learning/practice. Ds's baseball pitching has improved - Look how that hard work paid off! Dd makes an excellent snickerdoodle - Look how those fractions helped! Other dd makes a sign for her room - Look how that copywork has helped you! Blah, blah, blah. ;)

 

To be fair, my oldest soaks up knowledge but hates hard work. My second is a workhorse. My third hates anything that is too obviously academic. All three DO talk the talk though, so I'm hoping everyone will walk the walk at some point! :D

 

See, that's what I try to do, but it seems to annoy my oldest! Again, I don't know how much of it is an age thing or a personality thing, though. I was an only child, there are few cousins in the family, and DD9 is my oldest, so my experience with kids in general is very limited. Your statement about your oldest describes my DD9 to a tee, actually :lol:

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:lurk5:

 

I'm really curious about this as well. In fact, my husband and I just had a conversation about this over the weekend, prior to me noticing the other thread. My husband went to a Jesuit school for undergrad and another Jesuit school for his Master's but went to an Ivy for another Master's degree. We were talking about how do we make our kids WANT more than what comes easily, how do we make them WANT to work hard and do more than their peers so this post is very timely for me.

 

I'll be watching this thread and the other one closely.

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I agree that personality is a bit of it. One of my girls was just born more curious and driven than the other. But that just means that I had to work harder with the other. ;)

 

I would say that at least half of it is modeling. I am incredibly curious and self-motivated to learn. My dc don't see me **(edited to remove list of hobbies and ways to spend time that I consider frivolous but that might offend others)** -- all the things that other women in my circle seem to do. Instead, I study, and I read, and I discuss with dh and dc and friends. Some of it is because I enjoy it already, as it's a legacy my family passed on to me, but some of it is disciplining myself to be a role model for my dc.

 

Some of it is in being a fairly stern mother, and some in inspiring a love and devotion in dc such that they want the things I want for them without argument. I treat the love of education as a given, as one of the privileges they have. I started when they were young: lessons and time with me learning were a privilege to be earned, not something I begged them to do for me. As they have grown, I have worked them hard in my requirements and nurtured their own interests on the side, and the two are coming together beautifully.

 

Anyway, I could go on and on about this, as it's my pet subject. :lol:

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I think a piece of the puzzle is to take what they're interested in and help them to develop it.

 

So here's an example: my 12 yo is interested in technology and computers. We got him a subscription to Popular Science and we have bought him the latest gadgets. We bought him a book on building your own computer when he showed an interest in it, we listened to his endless thoughts on the subject, we helped him save up money by giving him jobs around the house to do and kicked in a chunk at the end, we encouraged, we listened, we helped. And we bragged to everyone we knew when he built his own computer last month.

 

Now, I'd love for him to go to Dartmouth and get an engineering degree. He has that potential without a doubt in my mind. But I'm not going to obsess about it. My hope for my children is that they will do what they love and love what they do. I'm going to help them along the way as I'm able.

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Anyway, I could go on and on about this, as it's my pet subject. :lol:

 

In all seriousness, please do!!! I would love to hear what you have to say. What you've written is already making me think about what I can do differently and what I used to do that has fallen somewhat by the wayside.

Edited by melissel
typo
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I started that thread so I'll answer. I always planned to give my kids the education and experiences necessary to be able to apply to a great college but in my mind, I never really saw them actually desiring that for themselves (the Ivies and the like). My oldest dd was the reason I started that thread; she just popped out one night saying how great it would be to go to Stanford. My mouth fell to the floor! She's no genius but she works hard and does have the drive to do her work well.

 

I think the key with her so far (not knowing yet what will happen) is that we encourage her to dream. This is BIG here in our family. I want my kids to grow up and make their dreams come true and not feel like stupid things held them back. We give them tons of educational experiences that show them what can happen with hard work. We're always showing them different career possibilities (and suggest things based on what we see they're good at doing) and never once have we said they shouldn't or couldn't try. I didn't come from a family like this so all I can do is try to show them the options. I can already see how our parenting differences (from what both dh and I grew up with) are changing the future for our kids.

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I would say that at least half of it is modeling. I am incredibly curious and self-motivated to learn.

 

~SNIP~

 

Some of it is in being a fairly stern mother, and some in inspiring a love and devotion in dc such that they want the things I want for them without argument.

 

I have to disagree. IME, motivation and drive come from within.

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Some thoughts:

 

First all, there has to be some basic hardwiring- the kid has to be smart, has to have a certain amount of innate drive on their own. And being first born helps. Most astronauts and presidents are first born, btw).

 

Be a Tiger Mom-seriously. Be so intentional and focused with your kids and demand a level of perfection that they know they have to attain (I mean, really,look at her kids).

 

and/ or

make sure your kids have a very different than average life (which is what Tiger Mom did/does). Have you read the Colfaxes book, Hard Times in Paradise? It's an interesting look at genetics and life-style (3 of thier 4 boys went to Harvard- both of thier bio sons and 1 adopted. The 3rd went to community college).

 

Provide an education (vs. school).

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I have to disagree. IME, motivation and drive come from within.

 

So you don't believe that there are any ways to help a person see the value in working hard for something? I don't think any of us believe that you can force a child to do the level of work required to get into an Ivy League school, but I do think you can show them a path and help them understand why what's at the end is a worthwhile goal, even if the path is difficult. That's more what I'm getting at.

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I think a piece of the puzzle is to take what they're interested in and help them to develop it.

 

Hmmm, interesting. DD9's interests have, for several years now, tended toward the entrepreneurial. I just made maple-coated pecans for us as a snack, and she has decided that she wants to make and sell them at a stand on the street (it's always at a stand on the street--eggs, quick breads, lemonade and cookies, hot chocolate :lol:). I would love to facilitate that sort of thing with her, but I don't see how. That's such a tough one. She's so much like her father in this way!

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So you don't believe that there are any ways to help a person see the value in working hard for something? I don't think any of us believe that you can force a child to do the level of work required to get into an Ivy League school, but I do think you can show them a path and help them understand why what's at the end is a worthwhile goal, even if the path is difficult. That's more what I'm getting at.

 

eh....I guess I see this differently. I think yes, you can teach someone the value of working hard for something. But you can't choose what that something is, what that goal is. For many/most kids that goal is NOT going to be getting into an Ivy, so no, they won't want to work that hard for it. And that is ok.

 

I don't think you can create a drive for high academia anymore than you can create a drive to be an olympic gymnast. You can provide the environment, but honestly, if someone posted on here "I really think it would be cool if my kid became an olympic gymnast, but she really doesn't have that much drive for it" I don't think we would be encouraging them to push that dream on their kid. We would recognize that it isn't a drive issue, it is a situation of differing goals.

 

My kid doesn't want to work that hard in school, because the goal of Ivy league isn't a big deal to him. I feel the same way. I have the intelligence to have gone to an Ivy, all other things equal. But I would have had to put a LOT more effort into all the other things people listed in order to make it happen. I couldn't see why I would do that, when I could put that time into relationships with friends, socializing, reading novels, and hanging out with family. I know to some that sounds lazy. To me, it just means that relationships were more important than academics, or a fancy university. I went to a fun, great, state school. Wonderful instructors, probably better than an undergrad Ivy. And I was happy. I'm glad no one forced more "drive" into me.

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I have a few thoughts - not necessarily about how to accomplish this though.

 

I think it is really important to teach kids perseverance so they can work toward their goals.

 

But I don't necessarily think it would be a great thing if everyone wanted to go to ivy league universities, or universities at all.

 

And would it really be a nice society if we all, or even most of us, had those driven, type A personalities? It can be really nice to hang out with people who are more laid back and take life as it comes, and I think they actually contribute something important to life.

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This topic interests me, too.

 

If your kids are already highly motivated, I guess you just provide the necessary tools and they'll take the ball and run with it. (And to the parents of those children, I'm not sure if I envy you, or if I just plain hate you... ;))

 

I also think the Tiger Mom thing can work with that type of child... but... I don't know that being a Tiger Mom works with all kids. I think a lot of kids would balk at that level of expectation, and would run the other way (or end up incredibly stressed and worried all the time,) rather than becoming more motivated. I know a few moms who push their kids incredibly hard, but I honestly think that, in their cases, it's so they can brag that little Jimmy can read ancient Greek and he's only 7. :glare:

 

I'm not saying that all Tiger Moms are like that, but I do think that, as moms, we need to be sure we're truly thinking of our kids' best interests, and not pushing them because we want them to be accepted into Princeton or Harvard, or because we like telling our friends and family about our "profoundly gifted" dc.

 

So anyway, this thread is very interesting. I'm very interested in all of your opinions about whether or not we can teach our kids how to be motivated and focused, or if it's more of a pre-programmed personality type of thing.

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eh....I guess I see this differently. I think yes, you can teach someone the value of working hard for something. But you can't choose what that something is, what that goal is. For many/most kids that goal is NOT going to be getting into an Ivy, so no, they won't want to work that hard for it. And that is ok.

 

I don't think you can create a drive for high academia anymore than you can create a drive to be an olympic gymnast. You can provide the environment, but honestly, if someone posted on here "I really think it would be cool if my kid became an olympic gymnast, but she really doesn't have that much drive for it" I don't think we would be encouraging them to push that dream on their kid. We would recognize that it isn't a drive issue, it is a situation of differing goals.

 

My kid doesn't want to work that hard in school, because the goal of Ivy league isn't a big deal to him. I feel the same way. I have the intelligence to have gone to an Ivy, all other things equal. But I would have had to put a LOT more effort into all the other things people listed in order to make it happen. I couldn't see why I would do that, when I could put that time into relationships with friends, socializing, reading novels, and hanging out with family. I know to some that sounds lazy. To me, it just means that relationships were more important than academics, or a fancy university. I went to a fun, great, state school. Wonderful instructors, probably better than an undergrad Ivy. And I was happy. I'm glad no one forced more "drive" into me.

 

As I said in my original post, getting them into an Ivy is not my actual goal. My own goal is to give them a top-notch education and foster a hunger for knowledge and a willingness to work hard. I went to a fun, great state school as well, and I got out of it what I put into it, which was very little, unfortunately. I had no one in my life who could help me see how powerful and valuable I could have made those four years for myself. I want to teach my daughters how to do more than the coasting along that I did. That's my real goal.

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I think certain people have an internal drive to work hard. I can honestly say, I don't think nurture has as much to do with it as that internal drive. I have two kids who are very motivated to do everything they do at their best level and another who only works at the thing that really interests him and everything else is just...shrug. They are just very different kids and have had their personalities since day 1.

 

I do think you can shape their drive to some extent. I look at my 9yo's drive to practice her music and see that she continues because she honestly believes that her hard work, not some God-given talent, is what makes her play well. From day one she has heard me compliment, not her actual playing but the hard work she put into achieving that level of skill.

 

My oldest is driven to succeed with his wrestling. He works harder and more than I would ever expect him to work. I never pushed his wrestling but I supported him and worked to keep his love of the sport alive by hugging him after a match whether he won or lost and, again, noticing what he accomplished through hard work.

 

Neither works hard because I am forcing them like a TigerMom but I do search out opportunities for them, provide my time to assist with practice and travel, and treat their goals as a priority.

 

Will any of them go to an Ivy League school? They can pick to go wherever they feel will provide them what they need.

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Maybe I'm missing something here. What is the end goal in getting a degree from an Ivy versus a highly-rated school in one's field of study?

 

I'd be happy with either one, frankly. I'm only jumping off some of the points made in the Ivy League thread that's around here somewhere. Either way, my question is about how to foster a drive for attaining knowledge and self-motivation in attaining it.

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Subtracting the idea of an Ivy school as the end result...I think an idea..well..more so it is a set of questions I've been recently getting clarified are:

 

"What are doing here, as a teacher? What things are you meditating on when you teach? Are you trying to teach those things which are only measurable?"

 

During a recent recording I was listening to, the question was poised and answered with this:

 

"If you cannot approach all that you do with the highest goal being virtue and honor" then basically don't bother at all.

 

The idea of virtue being expressed in faculties, or specific skills..was later on broken down into examples. I thought that was pretty good stuff.

 

The relationship to deeper knowledge, the fluency, skills and independence come through that pathway.

 

So, for me, I had to back up and take a snapshot of myself as a teacher, and my role, behavior, approach, attitude, patience and overall demeanor; both past, present and future.

 

I have a lot of growing up to do.

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I do think drive and motivation are at least in part teachable. First and foremost, I think you have to model excellence and NOT make excuses for yourself. My eldest, at 18, can see me now with adult eyes and frankly, I'm a good model of hard work-I work half time, weekend nights, I teach them at home, I keep house pretty much on my own for 6 of us. It is HARD. I show them every day that I never allow myself to make excuses for myself, and I immediately call them out when they do it.

 

Second, look at Tiger Mother. Whatever you think about her, the kids' success stands for itself. Many here have said they were or are unwilling to make the sacrifices required to do XY or Z. Excellence is a habit. Being a Mom has really muddied the waters for me, because I know I want excellence for them, but I am also sympathetic to their immaturity. I know, though, that the more sympathetic I am, the easier they will be on themselves, because Mom sets the standard for reality, especially when you are both teacher and Mom. So even though I am not too harsh, and I'd absolutely draw the line at insulting them or calling them names, I'm pretty honest with them when I see them being lazy or choosing the easy way out.

 

Children have no perspective beyond their own small lives. If they are surrounded by people who give them a gold star for everything, they won't ever know, until they grow up and leave, how much real work is required to do something very difficult. We are really the only ones to teach them that. Ivy or no Ivy, I want my kids to have some understanding of what is required to achieve the pinnacle of success, even if they don't choose to pursue that for themselves. At least they will know what SOME people, who made different choices from themselves, were able to do.

 

Yes, I am the new Tiger Mom!

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I think a lot of it depends on the culture of your home and family. Do you expect excellence? Do you surround your children with examples of setting a goal, working hard, then achieving it?

 

I grew up in that kind of home and it definitely helped me. The EXPECTATION was that I would go to a university. My dad has his PhD in organic chemistry from an Ivy league school, so higher education was the norm in my house. My mom's degree was from Penn State in "secretarial science", but hey....it was 1950. :lol: And she had a degree. I thought all moms graduated from college when I was young.

 

I also belong to a church that expects and fosters excellence in its members. We even have a personal improvemen program called "Pursuit of Excellence". We are encouraged to live "the abundant life". Our children our taught about goals, education and working hard by their leaders, which greatly helps my dh and I to foster our desires for them. Our youth have programs of achievement that require a lot of hard work for them to accomplish. Our girls have categories of projects under seven differents goals (faith, divine nature, knowledge, choice and accountability, individual worth, good works, integrity and virtue) that require several steps, plus a ten hour project in each category to complete.

 

If your church doesn't have something like this (or if you don't attend a house of worship), you could set up something on your own. I think goals are important for kids. They need to see the reward of hard work and how much better their life will be if they don't drift aimlessly through it or give up when life pushes back and they meet resistance.

 

Work with your kids at the beginning of each month and set some goals for them to achieve. Whether small (I will memorize my 3s times tables) or big (I will get a part-time job and begin a savings plan to set aside $100 a month for college), having a challenge and meeting it makes you a stronger person. If they don't meet their goals for that month, then you sit down with them, evaluate why, and adjust for the next month. My kids would sometimes include a "punishment" if they didn't achieve what they wanted in order to motivate them to work harder (if I don't keep my room clean this month, then I owe my mom a $10 maid's fee at the end of each week for cleaning it). It works!! I have two very successful, self-motivated, scholarship-awarded, college students who also work on the side (my dd dances with a ballet company, putting in many hours of work in addition to her school). The key is your participation and help.

Edited by DianeW88
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Ok, I am intrigued. Can you flesh this out?

 

The consequence for not behaving properly during lessons was that they didn't "get to" do lessons the next day. Dh always told them how lucky they were that I gave up my time to teach them. If they were being very diligent about a subject, I would get them extra materials. Everything we did was aimed toward "education as privilege" and away from "education as drudgery."

 

Similarly, we bought them books and tools for their intellectual passions as presents. We spent family vacations enjoying educational trips.

 

I should clarify that my original post was not about the Ivies specifically, as the OPs wasn't either, imho. I was responding to her questions in the last paragraph. As a Conservative, there are few Ivies I would even want my dc to attend, and their current inclinations are in a different direction anyway (computer programming and mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and chemical engineering or medicine respectively.) Anyway, my molding has been toward a love/desire of the intellectual and a strong educational work ethic in general, and not toward a specific goal. I do agree that the (successful) specific goals can only come from them. I won't argue the nature/nurture thing any further, though, because I know what I have seen in my own home and others and it convinces me soundly.

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First and foremost, I think you have to model excellence and NOT make excuses for yourself.

 

Well, that's it, I've blown it already! :lol: (but also :blushing:). This is definitely, definitely my weakest area. I'm trying so hard to change it while they're still young!

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Work with your kids at the beginning of each month and set some goals for them to achieve. Whether small (I will memorize my 3s times tables) or big (I will get a part-time job and begin a savings plan to set aside $100 a month for college), having a challenge and meeting it makes you a stronger person.

 

Diane, your whole post is excellent, but I really love this idea. DD9 does thrive under challenges like that, and I imagine that daily unending schoolwork must seem thankless unless I can frame it into actual achievements. She loved taking SOTW tests at the end of each chapter, but we've kind of stopped doing that. I'll definitely start finding some ways for her to work toward finite, achievable goals.

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I think personality is probably the biggest factor. Two of my kids have a strong inner drive. One is quite laid back which, I believe, also has benefits. Still I try to install a love for learning, feed their love for a subject, and approach learning/school with a positive outlook (i,e. something I look forward to doing with them everyday).

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I think it is personality. One of my dc's parents is internally motivated and is always striving for excellence. The other not so much. I won't tell you which is which.:D The dc are a mix and it doesn't fall along gender lines.

 

I *do* think that modeling helps, but if the child identifies with the parent who is not that way, then they are much less likely to be that way, KWIM? In addition, even if the dc identifies with the internally driven parent, he or she doesn't always take after that parent.

 

It would be way easier if we could just hook them up to a computer and program them!

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Most of intrinsic motivation and drive is an inborn character trait.

Otherwise, there would be no explanation why two ambitious, motivated, driven parents have an ambitious, motivated, driven daughter and a happy-go-lucky, minimalist son who needs to be pushed.

These traits were apparent as early as toddlerhood, so not something our parenting created.

We model, we parent - but *intrinsic* motivation is just that: intrinsic. Offering rewards, privileges, talking about what hard work gets you etc are external motivators and may help get a student to do the work - but they will not make the student want to work hard for the sheer enjoyment.

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I know this is probably one of our Great Questions: How do we help our kids develop an intrinsic desire for knowledge and the self-motivation to learn? Has anyone actually figured it out?! If you've had success in this area (or even just a plan for the future!), I'd love to hear about it. And if you think it's a nature vs. nurture thing, please share your thoughts on that too.

 

The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine does a good job discussing the issue of extrinisic vs. intrinsic motivation. Disregard the title; the advice can be applied to kids from all walks of life.

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Very interesting conversation, thanks for posting everyone. You have all given me some great thoughts and ideas!

 

I agree with Zaichiki, it's a mix - different for each child.

 

However, in our house, we believe that hard work is not something bad or to be avoided. That we are made to spend our days working and that is good for us. We're going through a bit of back to school attitude with my oldest so I'm spending a lot of time saying that school work is good, it grows our brains. My example is not exactly the best, but I'm working on it... I do believe that it's important, like DianeW88 said - college was normal & expected by the example/environment she grew up in. I want their 'normal' to be people working hard and joyfully, thankful for the opportunity.

 

 

So we require our children to work and contribute. We also require an instrument - for other reasons aswell - but also because I believe it is one way that hard work = payoff is demonstrated quite well, especially in the beginner years, and I think being *good* at something, knowing that you are capable of doing something well, is powerful.

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I have to disagree. IME, motivation and drive come from within.

 

:iagree: I have academically precocious kids. My 5th grader is doing AoPS algebra. I do not see him as an Ivy kid. I think he'd shrivel in an environment that competitive. He's naturally smart. He's not naturally a hard worker. I do intentionally engage him in things I think will stretch him and liked Donna's post about following her kids passions. But I do it not with my sights on an Ivy or any particular outcome. If my kids start talking about Ivy league schools I'll talk to them about doing their undergrad somewhere else and look at that as an option for grad school unless there are some scholarships in place. Financially it doesn't make sense to pay for an Ivy for undergrad. I had the grades, background, test scores, etc to apply for an Ivy, but again for the undergrad degree didn't seem worth it. I absolutely do expect my kids to get a college education and that is not presented as an option at this point in their lives.

 

I don't think you can create a drive for high academia anymore than you can create a drive to be an olympic gymnast. You can provide the environment, but honestly, if someone posted on here "I really think it would be cool if my kid became an olympic gymnast, but she really doesn't have that much drive for it" I don't think we would be encouraging them to push that dream on their kid. We would recognize that it isn't a drive issue, it is a situation of differing goals.

:iagree:

Edited by kck
Ipad spell check stinks!
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It's easy to say that modeling and parental expectations and quality of instruction and all that will produce a motivated child...until you have a truly unmotivated, un-driven, mellow, pokey, smarty on your hands.

 

My older son could be an excellent student.

 

But, he is lazy. He is s l o w. He is the polar opposite of 'driven.' He is mellow, laid-back, and perfectly happy to be that way.

 

He works. But he only works because we make him work. He'd much rather not.

 

I certainly can't imagine him earning his way into an upper-tier school unless something about him changes. He simply won't work that hard without constant, intense supervision. And I won't be providing that all the way through. I won't ride him and harangue him at the expense of our relationship.

 

My younger, however, is not nearly as naturally academically adept. He works, though. He has some desire to do well, to compete, to achieve. I can imagine him working hard and persisting and working his way up to whatever he wants. (He wants to be a Washington Husky, which we'd be very happy about!)

 

So, no, I don't think I could develop an Ivy-Leaguer -- not without doing some serious damage to the relationships in our home.

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I attended an Ivy League back in the day when it was actually possible to get in ;) My husband is also an Ivy League graduate. Neither of us have that as a goal for our kids, although if they got a full ride we might consider it :) I think going to a graduate school in the Ivy League is probably a better long-term goal. I believe I read an article somewhere that the majority of students in Ivy League graduate programs came from strong state programs, or programs from lesser-known colleges that simply had a great "X" program.

 

I think it's so very, very difficult for a child to get in to an Ivy League school these days that "shooting" for that is almost an exercise in futility. That said, we probably wouldn't do anything different than what we are currently doing: promoting hard work, dedication, learning how to fail and try again, finding a passion, and having goals and working towards them, no matter the obstacles. My older son is very hard-working and dedicated, and I think that will serve him well. Do I think it will get him into an Ivy League? I don't think so, simply because of the numbers.

Edited by Halcyon
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It's easy to say that modeling and parental expectations and quality of instruction and all that will produce a motivated child...until you have a truly unmotivated, un-driven, mellow, pokey, smarty on your hands.

 

My older son could be an excellent student.

 

But, he is lazy. He is s l o w. He is the polar opposite of 'driven.' He is mellow, laid-back, and perfectly happy to be that way.

 

 

I am your older son, lol. Mellow, laid back, smart, and happy. I remember turning in a paper in a class on Milton, and the instructor gave me an A-, but said to see him after class. I did, and he said it was a good paper, but with more effort it could have been an A+ instead of an A-. I tried not to laugh out loud at him. I just couldn't imagine WHY I would put more effort into that paper....I did enough to get an A, I was done. I would rather talk to friends or learn a new recipe or read a good novel than spend another hour or so on a paper when I was already getting an A in the class. I know that probably sounds "lazy" to some, but to me it seemed like prioritizing. And there is really nothing wrong with that.

 

I'm one of the happiest people I know :)

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I have to say, I'm blown away by the book Marva Collins' Way. All of her original students, from below poverty families, went to college and are doing great things. For the aspect of learning how to be a teacher the book is a gold mine of how to bring out excellence in your students, but let me tell you, she was non stop. She had no desk, she walked all day, up and down the aisles, touching the children, not letting one thing past her. I am totally going to be requiring more of myself after reading this.

 

Both Dh and I have a high work ethic, we take pride on what we do, and we expect excellence. AND we help them get there. I have been known to ask my Dd17 where the other three points were when she got a 97. In a laughing way, of course (kinda) but also in a SO CLOSE! way. I go over everything with her, too.

 

I can only hope that the others do as well. I'll be working hard to help them.

Edited by justamouse
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So you don't believe that there are any ways to help a person see the value in working hard for something? I don't think any of us believe that you can force a child to do the level of work required to get into an Ivy League school, but I do think you can show them a path and help them understand why what's at the end is a worthwhile goal, even if the path is difficult. That's more what I'm getting at.

 

BTDT. We are living the hard work and commitment to lifelong education that leads to successful realization of our goals. We discuss it regularly. It doesn't motivate them in the least.

 

I think you can show them the path to succeed in the goals that they set for themselves. Even if it is their goal, they won't necessarily follow that path to success unless they have the internal drive to do so.

 

I think you are taking too much credit for your children's innate drive. You can drive them, using your own energy and motivation to see them succeed. What will happen when you stop?

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My eldest, DS12, is much more driven than his younger brother DS10. DS10 is very bright and finds everything easy, but has absolutely zero motivation. DS12 is dyslexic and struggled terribly at school up to the age of 8 yo.

 

DS12's now doing very well at an excellent school, and in his last report was described as a 'fantastic student', because he was so self-motivated. I've always felt that the experience of having to struggle so hard to learn to read when he was younger has had a positive effect on him - as though having struggled and overcome a serious problem has shown him how powerful striving for something can be.

 

DS10 meanwhile has never known that struggle, never had to make much effort to achieve anything, so has never actually learned to make an effort. These days I'm challenging him more and more, and I think I'm beginning to see him catch on to the fact hard work brings great rewards. He'll be starting the same school as DS12 in September, and I'm also hoping that the effect of a bit of competition might inspire him too :001_smile:.

 

Best wishes

 

Cassy

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I think you are taking too much credit for your children's innate drive. You can drive them, using your own energy and motivation to see them succeed. What will happen when you stop?

 

That's exactly what I'm hoping to avoid, though. I guess I'm thinking about the kinds of habits I'm instilling now so that I don't have to drive them when they're in the run-up to college. Because if, by then, they're not moving under their own steam to a large degree, there's no longer much I can do about it! I don't want to be using my own energy and motivation at that point, so I'm looking for others' experience on what they have done (or not done) to help light the fire within their learners and whether it worked (or not worked).

 

If the fact is that this kind of personality is exactly that--personality only--well then I guess I can't do too much about it. But is that it? Is it entirely genetic? I can't quite believe that, and I'm just not at the point, with such young kids, to accept that there's nothing I can do help them love learning and find something they're on fire for. I guess I've just heard enough pie-in-the-sky stories about "that teacher" or "that subject" or "that experience" that opened up someone's eyes and made them see more clearly what they were working toward to entirely believe that we're at the mercy of our personalities.

 

I hope I'm making some kind of sense. If it turns out that my DD9 just isn't cut out for college but will instead go into real estate with her father, and that's where she feels fulfilled, then I'm OK with that. But I'm not OK with feeling like I haven't done my level best at trying to make her ready for the toughest college admissions process out there, whether she chooses to undertake it or not. If she was 15 and I was asking this question, I could see where I'd be taking too much credit for the amount of drive she has. But at 9, I'm not ready to step away. (And as for DD6, she's as much of a wild card as wild cards can be :lol: Actually, she's more like a wild pony! I have no expectations at all for her yet. I'm just thrilled that she's learned how to read finally!)

 

ETA: I'm still thinking about what you said compared with how I'm perceiving it all, so please don't think I'm disregarding your experience. I've only been at this a few years, and as I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of hunger for knowledge but no one to guide me in it, so I feel like I missed a lot of opportunities myself. That certainly colors what I want for my girls! I'm ruminating on everything everyone has said so far, trying to make sense of it all.

Edited by melissel
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That's exactly what I'm hoping to avoid, though. I guess I'm thinking about the kinds of habits I'm instilling now so that I don't have to drive them when they're in the run-up to college.

 

As I wrote earlier, we've been there and done that. We worked on instilling those habits in the kids. Now that we're actually in the run-up to college, I've witnessed the lack of internal motivation as I've been stepping back to allow them to sink or swim. It's just not there.

 

According to readings & coursework in the Collaborative Leadership course I'm taking right now, people are innately motivated by a combination of 1) Achievement (completing the task), 2) Affiliation (relationship), and 3) Power (enjoyment of the struggle). I imagine that kids who are working toward the Ivy League are strong in the achievement and power departments. Kids who have a more affiliative motivation probably aren't going to do as well under those standards.

 

That's not to say that my kids aren't going to go to college and do well in life. They just aren't innately driven to perform at the level that would allow them to be in the top of the top. It's not important to them. And if they decide to take a path that doesn't include college, that's okay too. My goal as a home educator is to give my children as many opportunities as I possibly can so that they can reach their own goals - not to have them to take a particular path to get there.

Edited by Amy in NH
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I'm just not at the point, with such young kids, to accept that there's nothing I can do help them love learning and find something they're on fire for.

 

I think "love of learning" and "drive to be the best" are two very very different things that may be confused here. I LOVE to learn. I spend most of my free time researching various topics just to learn more. I devour books, fiction and nonfiction. I'm notorious for being a well of various random facts. I LOVE to learn. But, I would never have the type of competitive drive to get into an Ivy school. I see it as something very very different from learning in and of itself.

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This is such a great thread.

 

After reading all of the posts so far, I'm left with a question -- How much of "motivation" is actually "good habits?"

 

What I mean is, are the motivated kids that way because they were born that way, or is it because ever since they were 3 or 4 or 5, they had a strict schedule and an enforced study routine? They seem like wonderful, motivated students, but is it because they love to learn, or is it simply because they've never known any other option?

 

I know that some people can honestly say that their kids get up in the morning, eat breakfast and hit the ground running with their schoolwork without a complaint, but many of us have kids who would be nothing less than thrilled if their dads told them that they didn't deserve the "privilege" of their mom's teaching that day... because it would mean a day off from school. (No need to ask which kid is mine in the above example. :glare:)

 

Do you think a lack of motivation sometimes stems from the fact that a really smart kid is able to get high grades without studying, so there's no real need to put forth a lot of effort?

 

Just wondering about all of this stuff! :001_smile:

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This is such a great thread.

 

After reading all of the posts so far, I'm left with a question -- How much of "motivation" is actually "good habits?"

 

What I mean is, are the motivated kids that way because they were born that way, or is it because ever since they were 3 or 4 or 5, they had a strict schedule and an enforced study routine? They seem like wonderful, motivated students, but is it because they love to learn, or is it simply because they've never known any other option?

 

I know that some people can honestly say that their kids get up in the morning, eat breakfast and hit the ground running with their schoolwork without a complaint, but many of us have kids who would be nothing less than thrilled if their dads told them that they didn't deserve the "privilege" of their mom's teaching that day... because it would mean a day off from school. (No need to ask which kid is mine in the above example. :glare:)

 

Do you think a lack of motivation sometimes stems from the fact that a really smart kid is able to get high grades without studying, so there's no real need to put forth a lot of effort?

 

Just wondering about all of this stuff! :001_smile:

 

I literally did LOL at that!

 

There is philosophy on both ends of the spectrum (nature v nurture). I can't come down on either side only in good conscience. I've read some Suzuki literature (the music suzuki) and he was pretty much 99.99% nurture.

 

I think your first question is a really, really good one Catwoman.

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I think "love of learning" and "drive to be the best" are two very very different things that may be confused here. I LOVE to learn. I spend most of my free time researching various topics just to learn more. I devour books, fiction and nonfiction. I'm notorious for being a well of various random facts. I LOVE to learn. But, I would never have the type of competitive drive to get into an Ivy school. I see it as something very very different from learning in and of itself.

 

Great post.

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