This commentary on edweek.org boils down four factors, which the author, Leanna Landsmann, calls the four M’s, that make high-achieving, low-income New York City high school seniors into college-goers: mentors, moxie, motivation, and Moms.
To me, the four factors she outlines are inseparable, and all have to do with motivation. Students who have mentors, especially parents, who help encourage them to aim high and persevere despite the sometimes enormous obstacles standing in their way are much more likely to be motivated to do well in school. Similarly, I think the moxie Landsmann refers to speaks to an inner desire to succeed.
What Landsmann said about motivation specifically, I thought was very interesting. She says:
Resilience helps kids bounce back from the most trivial of slights and the most horrible of traumas. Contrary to popular notion, these skills can be taught. They are shaped by goal-setting, planning for success, and developing confidence through real achievements.
The idea that motivation can be taught, influenced, and cultivated by many different factors is a very important point to make, and one that, as she mentions, often contradicts popular belief.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.