Working as an educator for the past 30 years, as a teacher, counselor and school psychologist a major interest of mine has always been student motivation. I have had the opportunity to have worked with students from the pre-Kindergarten to twelfth grade level in school systems in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. I have been in inner city, poverty-stricken districts and affluent districts. Which means I have seen students with significant social-economic disadvantages succeed, and ones that had "everything" going for them fail.
Personally, I fit into the first category. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old, my mother was a waitress that never finished High School and my stepfather who raised me (after age 7) never went to High School. My older brother quit school in the 10th grade. No one in my family attended college so I had very little family influence to pursue any academic goals. I remember as a child my steplining telling me to get "C's" in school. "C's are good," he would say. Perhaps, because he never even realized that when he was in school. Of course, this was when I was repeating the first grade so he was trying to get me to do better at the time. I muddled through elementary school and do not believe I started to get any career interests until Middle School. There I began taking an interest in science. It was exciting times in science and technology in the late 60's with the moon landing, Star Trek on TV, and Jacques Cousteau exploring the ocean and I was talked up in it.
However, I still had no clue on what it would take to succeed at something in life. Fortunately, High School sports changed that. I had a freshman football coach that did not accept excuses, and gradually it began to sink in that if you were to get anywhere in life you had to apply effort. I also started to get the idea that if other kids could go to college and have a good career, why could not I? I was just as good as them. I began applying effort to my academies as well and did go to a four-year college after high school pursuing my interest in science.
As a teacher I was always very aware of how my background related to many of my students. With the students that struggled in school, the ones that had behavior issues and applied little effort to their academies, my first question to them was always, "What do you want to do after high school?" Unfortunately, most of these students had little idea of what they wanted to do. They had no realistic career ambition. Sure a lot of students up to 9th or 10th grade would say they want to be in professional sports for a career, but again few had any idea of what that would require. They were clueless to the fact that most professional athletes are recruited out of good …