Episode 13: How to Motivate Student to Do Their Homework

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How to Motivate Student to Do Their HomeworkEpisode 13 of the Personal Brain Trainer Podcast


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Full Transcript for Episode 13

Erica: Welcome to the Personal Brain trainer Podcast. I'm Dr. Erica Warren.

Darius: And I'm Darius. Namdaran, and we're your hosts. Join us on an adventure to translate the scientific jargon and brain research into simple metaphors and stories for everyday life. We explore executive function and learning strategies that help turbocharge the mind.

Erica: Come learn how to steer around the invisible barriers so that you can achieve your goals. And this podcast is ideal for parents, educators, and learners of all ages.

Darius: This podcast is brought to you by Bullet Map Academy. And we have free dyslexia screener app called Dyslexia Quiz. It's fun, um, engaging and interactive app. Try it now. Just search for Dyslexia Quiz on the App Store and see how your scores differ from your friends and family.

Erica: This podcast is brought to you by Goodsensorylearning.com, where you can find educational and occupational therapy lessons and remedial materials that bring delight to learning. Finally, you can find Dr. Warren's many courses at learningspecialistcourses.com. Come check out our newest course on developing executive functions and study strategies.

Darius: So, what's the topic for this week, Erica?

Erica: I'm really excited about this topic because I think it's so important. We're going to talk about how to motivate students to do their homework.

Darius: Yes. Now this is a, ah, big challenge for every parent. Well, maybe not every parent. There are some children that are hyper motivated themselves. We can't tarnish everyone with the same brush. Yeah. So what angle are we going to take on how to motivate students to do their homework?

Erica: Why don't we try to hit it from different perspectives? What can a teacher do? What can a parent do? And what can a student do? So I think if we were to jump into that first question, what can a teacher do? This goes back to some of our old conversations on executive functioning. I think it's really important for teachers to develop executive functioning skills with the little ones. And a lot of people will be like, really? That's so complex. Well, it isn't. It isn't. I think that as we were talking about in the last episode, which was called How Executive Functions, Dyslexia and ADHD Relate, we were talking about how important it is for anybody to understand their cognition. And although executive functions seems really complex, I do believe that children can understand these three aspects. And when they do understand it, then they can learn to manage it. But how can you manage anything if you don't understand it? If you don't understand what's required behind motivation? And of course, I think it's executive functioning skills. We talked about those three kind of cute characters. We've got the yellow working memory and the red inhibitory control and the blue cognitive flexibility. And I did, I created some cartoon characters that followed in those colors. And I found that actually, it's not that hard to break it down for kids.

Darius: I suppose I'm coming at it from a, uh, parent tutor perspective here. I've been a teacher in my time, I'm a trained primary school teacher in the uh, Waldorf Steiner School method and I'm also a parent of a children with Dyslexia and often their motivations really hindered by the school system so you have to really work on motivation differently. And then I'm also a tutor running a tutoring company and train tutors as well. So my live experience right now is very much from that parenting and tutoring perspective and motivation I think fundamentally it's about intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. We are all motivated by things within us and by things out with us and how do we work with that in a healthy way. So you can get people to do things for you by using extrinsic motivation, external motivation stars and incentives and disincentives and punishments and threats and so forth. Sometimes it's helpful, sometimes it's not so helpful. And I think fundamentally intrinsic motivation, motivation from within the person is key and we need to pull that internal motivation out and stimulate it like a fire kindle it like a fire. So I think uh, that's kind of my framework of understanding motivation.

Erica: That's interesting and I wanted just to stop for a second and explain to people what intrinsic and extrinsic you you touched on what intrinsic is. It's when someone is internally motivated and extrinsic has to do with providing outside motivators to almost bribe a student to do something. And what the research shows is that it's best to help children to develop intrinsic motivation otherwise they're not really generating that fire that you were talking about.

Darius: This interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic, internal and external motivators or prompt ties in with executive function. You've got things coming into your brain being absorbed by your working memory, you've got your uh, inhibitory control, that controller deciding whether it's yes or no and then you've got cognitive flexibility to see whether the world has changed a little bit and you need to change your approach, et cetera. It's all connected also to motivation. The analogy of a fire. Sometimes you need a match from the outside to light a fire and teachers are there to light fires not to fill children with knowledge, but to ignite a love of learning, a passion for a subject, et cetera to ignite something that's within the child already. And if we think of it as fire lighting and fire keeping then there's a whole aspect of keeping a fire going. Sometimes a fire can burn hot and hard and then uh, all the bits of wood are standing there still a good distance away from each other and it can die down. And so sometimes you need to intervene a little bit and push the wood together to let it ignite a little bit more. And so external and internal isn't good and bad. It's two different aspects of working with this motivation. I think fundamentally my practical approach is there's a lot of things that children do at school that are not motivating internally. Motivating a child might have to do some geography, but they're not motivated towards it. And so this might be helpful to people who are listening or uh, to you, is that I like to sit down with a child and ask them what their favorite things are and do a picture board of all of their favorite things. It could be guinea pigs, it could be Tesla cars, it could be big off road vehicles, it could be rockets, uh, whatever it is that they're interested in. And once we've got this sort of poster of interests, maybe ten or 20 interests then my way of motivating a child to connect with notetaking for a subject for example, is to often if they're doing geography why don't we doodle pictures to do with geography, but maybe connect it to something you are intrinsically interested in particular animal. So if we're talking about South America, we're talking about South American geography, then hey, what are animals to do with south of America? Well, the subject might not all be about animals, but my notetaking might all involve llamas doing silly different little things because I'm interested in animals and llamas are animals from South America maybe. Do you know what I mean? And then maybe the South American is all about farming or skyscrapers and there's always a llama and a picture somewhere doing something silly related to it. And it helps me remember, it helps me connect with it helps me be harness that motivation that is around my personal interest and connect it. So that's one of the things I'm constantly trying to do is to connect what I'm interested in with what's coming at me from outside.

Erica: I totally agree. I do the exact same thing in my private practice. So I'm always asking my students what are your passions? And really integrating and weaving that into all the lessons? Because you're right when you can bring the things that they love to do and integrate them. And you're right also in the idea that sometimes it can just be a character because maybe they don't really relate, but you can use them as a character in a doodle or in your imagination. So I can think of a student that I had that was completely obsessed with Pokemon and he refused to even pick up a pencil. Well, we found online some really great tutorials on how to draw Pokemon. So we would draw together, sitting right next to each other and he would say like and of course he would draw because he loves Pokemon. And this was really exciting to him. But he would look at me and he was like oh, yours is better than mine. I'm like, well, let me show you why. You just have to hold the pencil this way and you'll have more control. And so it really became a tool from cunning.

Darius: That's cunning, right?

Erica: So I would say teach him how to hold the pencil correctly and how to write. And he really got into drawing after that, which then he gave himself that kind of practice to develop those fine motor skills. But whether it's changing also what something is called, I think one thing that teachers can do that's really important is to really think about how can I wrap this lesson in something exciting? And this is an example I've given before. I know, but it's such a good one. I don't teach script or cursive. I teach roller coaster letters. I had one little girl that said Cursive, uh, sounds like cursed. And I said, yeah, and script sounds like strict. She's like, yeah. I was like, that's why we do roller coaster letters. And she's like yay. It's the same concept, but it brings in your imagination and it makes it fun. So there are those two things, but you can take a lesson. And most kids have these kind of boring names to the lessons. They don't have to be boring. And you can bring in the things that the kids love to do in the classroom. I mean, there's always some kind of fad going through the classroom, whether it's jacks or hand clapping games. Integrate that into the lesson, and then all of a sudden, they're going to be just dying for it and create some excitement. Like, oh my gosh, I am so excited. Next week we're going to be doing fractions, and it's going to be so much fun. Wait till you meet these characters I came up with. And we're going to get to color. We're going to get to do all these really fun things. You know what I mean? So the bottom line is, yeah, bringing that excitement into it, bringing those passions into it, into the lessons, and then also teaching them what motivation is. Because if they're sitting in the back seat, so to speak, if they're too far away from the fire I love that analogy, Darius. That was so good. If they're too far away from the fire, they're not going to, uh, appreciate it. They're not going to enjoy it. They're going to get distracted and go and do something else in their mind or in their mind's eye. And so I think it's really important to bring them into the front seat so that they have a little bit more control, so they can say to themselves, oh, wow, I'm not focusing. If I use my visualization skills from working memory, I can pull myself back in and I can scoot in right close to that fire and enjoy the heat and the glow and, uh, excitement.

Darius: Of it, thinking, what if we went to a higher level and dissected some of the things that you did and said there, like with the fire, uh, analogy? So in many ways, what you used, the Pokemon became like a fire starter. When you start a fire, you might not start with wood, which might be a bit slower to burn, but you start with something that ignites fast and hard, but not for long. That's what you did with the Pokemon, wasn't it? You kind of put the Pokemon in there like a fire lighter lit that and you just concentrate on that and then that ignites the writing and the hand gripping and then the movement.

Erica: Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. So I think there are a, uh, few things that teachers can do. It's really the excitement about the lesson, wrapping it in something that really the kids connect to. And I think it's really easy to find a way of teaching and then just use the same thing over and over again. But when that happens, sometimes you lose your own excitement. So, I mean, I have to be really conscious about getting really excited about what I'm teaching with all of my students because we want to give them that little anticipation. We want to build the anticipation. Right. And we also want to build that excitement. And then, of course, it gives them that little dopamine burst which opens up their capacity.

Darius: If, uh, I'm being devil's advocate here. In many ways you're coming with an excitement, which is an extrinsic motivator. You're coming and you're saying, I'm really excited about this, and so on. And then you're lighting something inside of them that is an intrinsic motivator. A real interest in Pokemon or a real interest in whatever aspect that you're sort of flavoring your activity with or seeding your activity with. One other interesting story with this is motivation. Often praise is a motivator well done, et cetera is very motivating to children. Uh, there's another motivator I've got. I mean, this is a sad motivating thing. Let's not get too far into it. But sometimes when a teacher puts a child down and says, you're stupid, you can't do this, it makes the child go, no, I'm going to prove you. And it becomes an internal motivator. Proving the teacher wrong for the wrong.

Erica: Although, uh, that's kind of a negative thing that can be very debilitating. I mean, we might as well hit on the positive one.

Darius: It's not a good one, but it's an intrinsic motivator that isn't necessarily a positive. Intrinsic motivator is the point I was making there.

Erica: You're so right. And I'm going to tag off of that just for a moment and I'm going to share a personal story. I had to take the PSATS in high school and I was extremely stressed about them and had enormous anxiety and I cried through them. Nobody told me. It just kind of happened one day. And I cried through it and I could barely read it because I was just a mess over it. And when we got the test scores back, the principal of my high school pulled me into his office and he said, erica, you're not college material. You shouldn't go to college. I hate to tell you this, but these scores are so bad that I don't think you're capable. And that's exactly what happened with me. I was like, Are you kidding me? I'll show you. But I think that wasn't until later on in life where I felt that there was a fire in me that knew that I was capable. But so many of the little kids don't have that.

Darius: Yeah, uh, there's loads of people with Dyslexia that I've heard of, including myself, who have had that moment where they're like, no, I'm just going to prove you wrong. And thankfully, there's enough self confidence in there to say, no, actually, I think I can do this. But what I came across in the book Bounce was that story about teachers giving their children praise for the work they've done. Did I tell you this story?

Erica: No.

Darius: So, these scientists in the UK, in England, decided to do some research on what's the most effective way to praise a child in the class. And so what they did was they said, well, we know that praising a child is very positive and helpful, so what's the best way to do it? What they did was they split, took these classes of kids and gave them some maths problems and they graded them to see what their level is, and they equaled them all out so that there was an equal groupings. And then the first group, they gave, uh, a set of easy math problems, and the second group, the same ones, and they gave them the results. And regardless of what their results were, whether they were good or bad, they didn't tell them, give them a percentage or whatever. They gave them their results back and they said, you must be really good at this. They said, well done, you must be really good at this. To one group and then to the other group, they said, well done, you must have worked really hard at this. Same amount of words, but different emphasis. Okay, the results were fascinating. Which group do you think did better?

Erica: Right. Reinforcing the effort with the effort. Right.

Darius: You must have worked hard at this. Okay, well, the long story, in the short of this whole process, they then gave them, um, another test, which was impossible. They couldn't get the answers to them. And the group that were told, you must have worked really hard at this, stayed working on it longer. The group that were told, you must be really good at this gave up much quicker. Then they said the same thing, gave them results and said, don't worry, well done, you must be really good at this. Or, well done, you must have worked really hard at this. Regardless, every single time, that's all they did. Then they gave them a choice. In the next one, they said, look, here are some easy questions, or here's some hard questions. Which one do you want to do the majority of the people who were told, you must be really good at this, stayed safe and went for the easy questions. The majority of the people who were told you must have worked really hard at this, stretched themselves and went for the hard questions. Now, here's the kicker. At the end of all of this, they gave them the same standard of tests at the beginning, how much more improved was the good group, and you must have worked hard at it. The good group got about 12% worse. Mhm, and the people who were the children who were told, you must have worked really hard got about 20% better. So the evidence which shocked the researchers was that not all praise is motivating and helpful.

Erica: That's right. You know, there's a researcher in the United States, Carol Dweck, and she did the same research and came up with the same results, same idea that we have to be really careful what we're reinforcing and what we're motivating. Yeah, you don't want to just tell someone, oh, you're super smart, you're a genius, you want to reinforce the effort. So, uh, yeah, that seems to be very clear in the research. And it's really easy to say that to kids, you're so smart. Uh, that's amazing. And you can say that, but you want to make it that kind of effort, and you want to be really specific about it. Like, I had a student just yesterday I was working with, and he processes really quickly, so quickly that he does this impulsive stuff and makes mistakes all the time. And whenever he slows down and processes slower, I always reinforce it like mad. I'm like, oh my gosh, you process that at such a great speed. I really appreciate it. And did you notice that you got the problem right? In fact, you got the last seven problems right and you didn't make any of those what I call oops because they're not careless mistakes. They're oopsis that gets into wording, which is a whole another issue of motivation that we have to be so careful that we don't use words like careless or unmotivated or I don't even use wrong or incorrect. I say almost or getting there, because when you say almost or getting there, it motivates them to try again. But when you say no or wrong, it tends to demotivate, I find, and discourage.

Darius: Erica, uh, have you heard about the nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg?

Erica: I have, and I love it and I use stuff out of it all the time.

Darius: I found that fascinating. And I think tying in his use of language with this idea of praise and this research on praise is fascinating. Because if you combine the two so nonviolent communication, his thesis is the key word that he doesn't like. Is should because you're basically trying to manipulate that person into doing what you think should be done. Or you should have done this, you should have done that. Why didn't you do this? You should have did that. It can be quite aggressive and violent, but often in a very gentle way. You should have done this. But, uh, there's an edge to it. It's very extrinsically motivating. And what our goal is to be intrinsically motivating and it ties in with this praise. So one of the things I learned from Rosenberg's YouTube videos, which are amazing about nonviolent communication, was when you see someone's art, for example, how do you speak about it? So if, uh, an artist comes up to you with a piece of work, whether it's a child or an adult, often people go, oh, that's really good, you are really talented. And have you noticed that that ties in what we just said, oh, you must be really good at this. And that started to make me do alarm bells. Oh, we do that a lot with people's abilities and talents, especially with art. And so one of the things I learned to do was when someone comes up with a piece of art, here's a tip for teachers and parents in terms of motivation, is to say to them, instead of saying, oh, they've got, uh, a giraffe in uh, a uh, Savannah land, okay? Instead of saying, oh, that's really good, you say, oh, I like that. Because you're saying I like that. You're not saying it's good or bad, you just think, I like that. I like how you did the patterns on the giraffe. I love how did you do that? Is that uh, a rock there or is that an animal? And you're really engaging with what they did and praising specifics like you said, Erica, and that language isn't good, bad language. It isn't should or shouldn't language. It's really engaging with the hard work the child did. And it's like, you must have worked really hard on that. So that's a really great opportunity to say, gosh, I really like that, you must have worked really hard on that. And then you point out one specific thing and even if you do this with a very good artist, like for example, they've done a face, instead of saying I really like that face, you go, I ah, really like that. I love how you did that around the eyes. I really like that bit around the neck that you did, the shading there and so on. And the person feels seen, right?

Erica: And you know, the other thing is to point out what students have done right, instead of always pointing out what's wrong. So, for example, if I have a student that failed a test and they come in and they got like a 64, usually the first thing I say is, wow, that means that you got more than half of it correct. Congratulations. And they always look at me in total shock and I'm like, I don't see that as a failure. I see that is that, you know, more than half of the information. And that's good. Now let's see if we can tackle the other stuff. But if you start that way, then it kind of shifts them, like, whoa, yes, that's bizarre. But, um, education is always pointing out what's wrong. And this is another interesting thing. I had a student just Monday who said that she got a 67 out of 70. And she said, I'm really disappointed that I didn't do better. Right? And I said, do you know that that's a 96? And she said, oh, okay. She said, uh, all I could really see was that I got three wrong. But that's the problem. And that's how we trigger kids to feel like they're not enough. We're making them try to feel like they have to be perfect. Right?

Darius: Uh, yes.

Erica: Okay. But the other thing is, sometimes they don't understand the conversion.

Darius: Yes. So, uh, what you did there was you reframed it by converting into percentage. So you got 96%. Well done.

Erica: Right.

Darius: But even then, some kids see 90 67, and they think, uh, it's not so good at 67, and they think it's 67%. And they literally haven't quite got the proportion that that's like 97%, uh, especially those who are maybe a bit dysgraphic or Dyscalculik, uh, that are very good at geography or whatever. And sometimes you need to reflect it back and reframe it, and they see it from another angle, and they go gosh. Yes.

Erica: One of my favorite stories is a student that came in, he had an 87 on an assignment, and he threw it down in front of me, and he said, I'm so careless, I'm so unmotivated. And this piece of paper had red markings all over it. And the teacher wrote right across the whole sheet, careless errors. And he was just so demoralized and so upset. It took me the whole session just to help him understand that this is a kid that had executive functioning in ADHD and just to bring up his morale. And at the very, very end of our session, I said, I've got something I need to tell you that's really important. Your teacher made a huge mistake. And he looked at me and he said, what? I said, she spelled careless wrong. She spelled it Carless. At Carless. And I went out into the room and I said to the mother, I said, would you do me a favor? I said, Would you meet with the teacher and would you give her this? And say, how could you misspell careless? How could you do that? And then say that's how you made my son feel? Because we have to be so careful. And I know how amped teachers can get when you've got an unruly classroom and we get triggered, and it's so easy to lose our cool. And I hear kids coming into my office all the time. My teacher hates me. My teacher's screaming at me. My teacher said, this about me, or that about me, or I feel bullied by my teacher, or I feel bullied by other kids. We just have to be so careful to stop when we get triggered. We have to stop, we have to breathe. We have to show kids. We have to emulate the appropriate behavior of stopping and breathing and not having that emotional reaction and taking it out on another kid. But we all do it. I've done it. I know you've done it. Parents do it, students do. We all do it. But we need to be more mindful. And that's getting again, back to executive functions, right?

Darius: Next flicks series called, uh, Cobra Kai, which is about Karate Kid. And there's a quote in there all the time. They say there are no bad students, just bad teachers. And it's all about these two senses and how they're being bad teachers, and their students are coming out differently because of the way they're being taught. And, uh, it's a big quote, because often we, as parents and educators, can assume the issue is with the child. And actually, you realize, actually, maybe I'm not teaching this right or doing this right, and in the busyness of classes and so on, it's hard to do it all perfectly, of course. But it's helpful to remember, I think, starting with that paradigm of there are no bad students, just bad senses, it makes you think twice about what you're doing and how you're doing it sometimes.

Erica: Well, and I don't want to put a lot of blame on teachers or on parents, but I do think that, yeah, it's taking that moment to reflect. And what I personally constantly tell myself is try to act more as a facilitator, you know, if you instead of this know it all teacher that's trying to force content and manipulate kids into you should, you should you should really, um, trying to ignite that inner fire, I think, is a big thing for me.

Darius: Interesting one. We very much focused on teachers in this one, and I'm not being hard on teachers in that quote. I think it's very helpful. I mean, it's not true completely. There are bad students, there are great teachers, uh, et cetera. It's just to emphasize that if a, uh, student is doing something wrong, it's not always because they're wanting to let me say this.

Erica: I think that we're all active players, we're all participants in this, and that we can work together to light that fire, to light that flame. I love that metaphor that you used. It so resonated with me. And the kids can collect the kindling, uh, getting everybody involved and excited and invested, I think, is really our message, wouldn't you say?

Darius: Yes. And essentially, it comes down to a facilitator of a fire is a fire keeper. You know, that you're there to have a watchful eye, to just see when something else needed to be added onto the fire. A little. Tweak here, a little tweak there. But often, if you ever do tend a fire, if you do tweak it too much and move things around too much, you can actually kill the fire because it needs time to sit, to connect, to touch, and that fire to create that reciprocal heating relationship. And we can interfere and affect it too much. And essentially, in Scotland, we have a curriculum called Curriculum for Excellence, which I think will become world famous probably in the next 2030 years. The four pillars of it are, uh, independent learners, responsible citizens, effective contributors, and active learners, or something like that. I can't remember the fourth one. But independent learners is so important in all of this. I mean, our goal as teachers is for the child to become an independent learner, to have the skills to be an independent learner. And motivation is a whole part of that. So first of all, how to motivate that child to learn and how the child, like you were saying, is learning how to keep themselves motivated to learn. And they become the fire keeper of their own fire of learning. So it starts with the teacher starting the fire, kindling the fire, teaching the child how to tend this fire. And these are all very much executive function kind of skills, you know, that are, uh, how. So let's use the fire analogy. For example, if you take the three executive function aspects of working memory, that's taking an information, that's like gathering what.

Erica: You mean of executive functioning. The three aspects of executive functioning?

Darius: Yeah, let's take the three aspects of executive functioning and relate it to fire keeping. So a, uh, working memory could be like that gathering of information and sorting out into what you want to keep and not keep and where you're going to put it. That's like gathering the wood for the fuel, the fuel for the fire. And then the inhibitory control is when do you put the wood on and when do you put the wood off? And sometimes you can put too much wood on. No, don't put too much on, but put a little bit on here and adjust it and then fan it into flame. And then you've got the, um, cognitive flexibility, which is maybe that area of right, the wind is building up here. We need to adapt this, put some bricks up and maybe move the woods closer together so it doesn't get blown out because you're being flexible to the environment that it's all happening in. And so this is kind of what you're doing for your own learning. So you, as a teacher, start doing it for your children. And, uh, I think maybe it's more the role of the parents to start using these executive functioning skills with their child at home where they've got more one to one time to sit with them and say, go through some of these executive function skills until the child starts internalizing how to keep that fire of learning burning in them.

Erica: Um, I totally agree. And I think another thing that parents can do at home is bring that level of excitement, too, about learning as well, and coming up with fun things that they can do to reinforce some of the things that they're learning in school. And one of the things that I tell a lot of my parents, particularly if they have kids that struggle with reading, is creating a reading nook, like a really cool one. It could be a tent. It could be under their bed, where they bring in pleasantries, and they bring in they might even be able to have special snacks when they're reading, but special lighting and colors and this and that, whatever makes them, uh, excited. Stuffed animals or big pillows, so that there is a pleasant association with reading. So, uh, creating that environment at home and making sure that they have an appropriate place to do their work, but that they have all the tools that they need, and many little pleasantries as well. Because sometimes I have students that don't have any room to do anything. They may not even have a desk, and they may have to do their work at the dining room table with everybody around them. And it's too distracting. There's so many different things that you can do in the home environment to help to make kids more motivated. One of my favorite stories is a little girl that I'm working with right now. And the parents were getting so frustrated because whenever they gave her instructions on what they wanted her to do, what she should do, uh, you should go upstairs and you should do this, and you should do this, and you should do this. And they expected her to be back in five minutes. And then they would go up there, and she hadn't done anything, and they were so frustrated. So what we did is she loved stuffed animals. So those kind of Beanie Baby kind of things, those little small stuffed animals. What we did is we decided that we would define what different stuffed animals meant. So if you have to put on your clothes and she defined that putting on my clothes would be I'll, um, just make something up. I forget what they were would be a teddy bear, because maybe she has a, uh, little stuffed teddy bear with a sweater on. And so for each of the different things that her parents wanted her to do, we had a stuffed animal associated with it. And so she had a whole basket of stuffed animals. So the parents would say, okay, when you go upstairs, I want you to do this, this, and this. And they would hand those three stuffed animals to her, and they would say, when you're done, bring the stuffed animals back to me. It worked famously, and she loved it. She used to hate it when her parents told her what to do. Now, she loved it. It was so much fun. So that's just another example.

Darius: That is fantastic. Here's another one. My daughters used to hate putting on their wetsuits on holiday.

Erica: What's a wetsuit?

Darius: A wetsuit is like when you go swimming or diving in cold water, you put this black costume on of neoprene what do you call them?

Erica: Yeah, I guess it is. I just assumed with a little kid, why would a little kid wear a wetsuit? But go on. Okay, okay.

Darius: Well, I'm I'm in Scotland, right? And when we go on holiday to the beach, the temperature of the water is about six degrees centigrade. And so when they want to go and paddle in the water, they can last for about ten minutes before, after about 20 minutes, half an hour. They don't realize it, but they're getting hypothermia sort of thing. And if we want the children to go and paddle in the sea and enjoy themselves for a good hour or 2 hours, like you're on holiday, then we put them in wet shoes and wetsuit and they can spend the whole day in there deliriously happy. But they hated putting on their wetsuits in the morning because they're awkward and they're sticky and it takes forever and it's just, uh, lots of whinging and whining and so on. And it would take like ten minutes and it would feel like 2 hours to do the whole thing for all of us. So I came up with an idea. I said, I played Nina Simone's, a, uh, song, okay, on the radio, just on my ipod, press play. And this time it was Nina Simone's I Ain't Got no this, I ain't got that, uh, about head, hands, feet, legs, etc. It's got this song, it's lovely song. And my daughters really loved the song, so I said, we're going to play this song and put on our wetsuits. And so we played the song, we put on our wetsuits, lots of whinging and whining and so on. Then the next day I played the song and the kids were like oh, and they put on their wetsuits and they didn't complain quite so much because they were listening to the song. And then the third day, it became the wetsuit song. I pressed the song thing on and they were like, oh, that's the wetsuit song, like Pavlov's dogs. And they would go, would go, right, let's put our wetsuits on. And then we started moving and putting the wetsuits on in time with the music. And it was still ten minutes long, it was still awkward, but it transitioned them into actually enjoying putting on their wetsuit because they associated with enjoying it with that song. And so similar scenario where you take something that intrinsically motivates them and they're, uh, interested with connect it with something that they're not that motivated, uh, to buy. And there's this halo effect of all that beautiful music or those lovely cuddly toys connect with that activity.

Erica: Absolutely.

Darius: Yeah. There's so much more to it if you're doing exams. I mean, when I was doing this for exams, I was doing higher exams. 17 years old, my friend and I decided we're going to have an exam song. And every time we go into a test, like sports people, they play a set of music, it gets them into the zone. They know when they play that set of music, they're going to get pumped up and go do the thing. We do the same with exams. We say, this is our exam song or a test song, and we just listen to that song just before we go in and it creates this mindset. And lots of athletes use these techniques and there's lots of different ways of motivating that we can talk about. But it is a fascinating and very productive exercise to actually take time to do some of these things, whether it's with your five year when we tidy it up stuff. When there's a tidy up song in kindergarten, you play a song, let's all tidy up, or whatever it is. And then the ones that are like, no one's tidy up end up singing the song and end up suddenly they don't realize it, but they're tidying up and they're like, Why am I tidying up? I don't want to be tidying up. I am tidying up. And they're carried along by this song and all the way to an exam song for your exams, or if you're going to be an athlete or whatever. There's all sorts of ways of connecting what you're really interested in with what you're not, in order to maintain and get what you want and be motivated to do what you want.

Erica: Yeah, and I'm glad that you talked about doing that at an older age, because I think students can motivate themselves. We can learn to collect the wood and start our own fire and say, okay, how can I make this course more palatable? How can I connect it to something that I really like? Uh, maybe I can watch some YouTube videos on, um, this particular history topic so that I can start to generate those visualizations that will kind of pull me through the lesson. Um, absolutely.

Darius: I mean, there's another example. I love YouTube, but I don't like geography. Okay, let's do a YouTube video on geography. So you get a bit of what you like and then it diverts you into the geography, hopefully. Uh, there was one thing that I meant to talk to you about. Maybe it's another conversation, but it's the phrase learned helplessness.

Erica: Uh, you know what? Let's do a whole podcast on that because that is so heavy.

Darius: Yeah. Because this whole intrinsic motivation that we're talking about is the antidote. To learn helplessness, we need to be very careful, especially with children with different learning, specific learning differences, especially, that they can learn helplessness, and they actually need to learn independence and learn how to tend their own fire of learning. But often they're like, oh, I'm not allowed to touch the fire, or, I can't touch the fire. I can't do it right. I have to get my teachers to do this, or I have to wait for someone else, or whatever. No, life is about going out there and taking responsibility for your own learning and your own life. And there is this problem of learned helplessness, and it affects society, especially learning at, uh, different levels.

Erica: Yeah, that's definitely a topic that deserves a, uh, really in depth conversation. So we'll definitely put that on our list.

Darius: Yeah, it's on the list. Erica, great talk.

Erica: It was really fun. It always is. And. Thanks, Darius. That's so much fun to come up with and share our metaphors. And it, uh, always reinforces what I do and helps me to go a little deeper.

Darius: Yes. And where we took that analogy today was teachers light fires. They don't fill with knowledge. They light fires. But parents teach children how to keep their own fires going, and then, ultimately, we all need to learn to become fire keepers.

Erica: Right. And it's about instead of pedagogy and dragoji. You and I have talked about that before, which is stepping more into the character of being a facilitator instead of a shoulder.

Darius: Yeah.

Erica: Anyway, thank you so much, Darius. It was such a pleasure.

Darius: Till next week, Erica. Uh, bye.

Erica: Bye. Thank you for joining our conversation here at the Personal Brain Trainer Podcast. This is Dr. Erica Warren and

Darius: Darius Namdaran. Check out the show notes for links to resources mentioned in the podcast. Um, and please leave us a review and share us on social media. Until next time. Bye.