If we don’t hold their feet to the fire
Keep up the pressure
Ratchet up the stress
They’ll do nothing.
If we don’t hold threats over their heads
Like swords of Damocles
Or pendulum blades
Or Looney Tunes anvils,
They’ll be lazy
And nothing will get done.
If we don’t hold out carrots
And threaten with sticks
And offer incentives
They will sit indolent
And turn away
And waste their time doing other things.
If we don’t motivate them
With consequences and rewards –
With your name moved into the red zone
On the bulletin board
With a referral or a D or F
Or a gold star by your name
Or a smiley face in the margin
Or an A (B probably won’t cut it)
They’ll be unmotivated
To do the tasks set before them
And the center will not hold
And things will fall apart.
If we show mercy
If we drop our cynical certainty
That they are only motivated from the outside
They will pounce on our weakness
And do as little as humanly possible.
If you give them a single point they don’t deserve
They will take advantage of it
And learn nothing,
Take away the threats and rewards,
Those two side of the same coin
And you are unplugging their power from the wall
Taking the wind out of their sails
Emptying the tank
Clipping the wings
That hold them aloft.
The only reason they’ll do anything
Is because someone
Is hovering over their shoulders
Quietly threatening them
Or shouting right in their ear.
Because the only real motivation
For them is fear.
I don’t understand
Why they aren’t
Motivated by a fire within
A desire to learn
And a yearning
It can’t possibly be my fault.