That I am delayed in writing in this webspace, I know. I overslept somewhat, as, having woken several times in the night and not being required to maintain a tight schedule today, I decided I would allow myself to remain abed for a bit. I am not sure that I am pleased to have done so; there may not be a freelance job waiting for me at the moment, but there is still much for me to do, and I have lost some of the time in which I would be able to do it. Perhaps I would not have been able to be effective had I not done so, but I do not know if I will be effective even having done so, and if I am not, I would have to question why I indulged myself. To what purpose will I have done such a thing?
I ask because, as I note, work does continue despite the lack of a present freelance commission. I probably ought to prepare materials for my next class meetings, which will need to include quizzes, since too many of my students yesterday showed me that they are not yet doing the readings assigned to them. I would like to stimulate discussion in my classes, but unless the students read the materials, there is little upon which they can build discussions that conduce to the ends of the course. Last term's students managed to get away without provoking quizzes--the proverbial spur to their flanks--but they knew I had them ready. Perhaps the looming prospect of such activities is needed.
I have never known how to stimulate intrinsic motivation. It is one of the flaws of my teaching that I have not been able to connect to students in such a way that prompts them to want to learn about what I have to teach without the threat (a small threat, indeed, but still a threat) of punitive grading--and even that does more to foster surface-level compliance than to promote actual learning. I have tried activities of various sorts; I make a point of putting materials online for student review, using learning technologies that are supposed to help meet students at their own level. They still, in the main, do not engage. They will sit sullenly for games, silently for discussions, and on the verge of sleep through more traditional forms--and their performance does not change, despite what I do. (In the main, of course; there are always a few who get it, and there are some who are naturally eager.) And all the lovely theories about teaching that I read, all of the wonderful activities I see described in the literature, depend upon students being engaged with what is going on in the classroom--something I evidently do not know how to make happen or to allow to happen or to encourage to happen.
I think I am justified in feeling frustrated.