Norazlinda Hj Mohammad
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies (FKPM)
According to an education scholar, Malek Bennabi, education was meant to be a continuous process of civilization-building with the final aim of achieving that civilization. But somehow along the way, we sort of missed the important objective of attaining good education. Mostly university students, lecturers, administration and even the Ministry of education are all stressing on getting straight As, 4flats and Deans list. Better yet, the top achievement Anugerah Naib Canselor. Something to be mused well has knowledge seeking become all about that Ace or prestigious titles? Has it become less meaningful and more of a chore to do? Excellence without being compassionate or even having soul. Have we come to that extent? Producing student with selfishness and arrogance values. My aimed as an educator is to produce students not only possess good grades but also A’s in attitude with a sense of respect, compassionate, responsible, sensible and honest.
Now as an educator myself, I am very concerned with this as I personally observed my high achieving students feeling emotionally exhausted, physically stressed out and overly anxious when they learn in class and especially while waiting for their exam results. They are very fearful or being paranoid if they do not get the desired grades or CGPA. They even can question on their marks why I only get this instead of higher than that. Seeing that tormented scenario, it is sad to say that some students tend to be ungrateful even being impolite in communicating with me. I had asked my students, what they would like to gain after learning the whole semester. Here are their astounding answers:
“I would like to get dean’s list for every semester” “I would like to get an A for this subject” “I want to make my parents proud” “I would like to be famed rich “My parents wants me to get high achievements dean’s list.” “This is my obligation to make my parents happy.”
In psychology terms, these types of rewards are called external motivators. You are motivated to achieve something based on obtaining reward from external factors such as obtaining prestigious titles or making your parents proud. Most of these students will lose their motivation for knowledge seeking when they do not achieve what they set out to get and would probably give up feeling despair. Even if they have been successful in achieving the Ace that they want, in the long run, they will still be unhappy or thinking that they had lost their battle of achieving great height due to the stress and anxiety that have accumulated throughout the years. This is really causing mental disruption and misery.
Through my experiences, after several years of teaching, only a handful of my students have wise answers:
“I would like to improve myself” “I would like to help for the betterment and serve for my country.” “I would like to create awareness and bridging the gaps among society.” “I love gaining new knowledge as it has no boundaries, thus acquiring knowledge has no ends.”
As for these kinds of responses, the students are intrinsically motivated that is, they find joy and self satisfaction when they learn something new and looking forward to new possibilities. These kind of students, are highly motivated to learn and are not easily stressed out but able to manage their emotions when they do not get their desired grade. They will learn and take some of the things positively with matured mind that they had learnt and try to apply not only for problem solving but also understand their surroundings. It goes with the saying; it’s better to possess a well-balanced of mindful Emotional Quotion (EQ) not only just by having Intelligence Quotion (IQ) in achieving the goals. In fact, it takes two attribution of EQ and IQ to succeed in life as life is full with unexpected.
So what is the problem? Isn’t it good enough that we are producing a lot of A students and deans lists? Why am I even complaining? As an educator I should be proud of my students who work so hard and always strive for an alphabet that they hope to put on paper? Being an educator, it is my responsible to produce quality students with good etiquette that fulfil the needs and want of our stakeholders as they will bring along the qualities that they possess since they began as a UiTM undergraduates until they work.
I would like to remind my wonderful university students that being a high achiever is an admirable attitude. However, excellence without a soul is such a waste of time, effort and even money to some extent. Knowledge seeking is more meaningful than such superfluous reasons. Bear in mind, one must seek knowledge not only to improve oneself but also upgrade as a human being so as to contribute back to the society, be accountable to do good, and inspire others to be well virtue Students, Isn’t that more meaningful? Do you feel happy and satisfied after looking at your choices with regards to knowledge seeking? Life is more than attaining good grades and it is a life long journey.
As a matter of fact, you need to find the balance between your extrinsic and intrinsic motivation so that you could manage your stress and anxiety level effectively. Besides that, by finding the equilibrium between external and internal motivations, you could be more productive and happier with your achievements. That Ace you want will come later on or maybe it won’t. Nevertheless, be grateful as you had gained so much more rather than an alphabet that would look nice on results. Something to ponder as an educator, we don’t need nerd young generations or self-centered graduates but we need smart and creative students in running the country to achieve the vision for the progressive nation.