Today I went to Macao to interview a group of English teachers on the teaching and learning of English in upper forms in the city. Their biggest complaint was the students’ lack of motivation to learn English, and exam pressure became the only driver for learning English. They admitted that it is not desirable to use exam pressure to drive learning, but if there was no exam, there would be zero effort in learning English.
On hearing that, I thought: ‘Is our situation in HK any better?’
Of course, we know it’s not just English; it’s true of most other subjects. In fact, it’s a common phenomenon today in ‘developed’ countries and cities around the world. While opportunities for schooling increase, motivation to learn decreases. People study mainly for external rewards or societal needs. What has gone wrong in present-day society?
I’m still an idealist, and I’m still dreaming of the day when intrinsic motivation is what drives student learning in schools.