Energizing the Unmotivated – Dr. Tim Sullivan

In a keynote speech organized by the Center for Learning and Teaching on the AUC campus; Dr. Tim Sullivan speech was about the unmotivated students and what are the reasons behind this lack of motivation and how to energize them. I have found this topic very relatable to today’s students of how the youth are enrolled in universities just for the sake of the degree and how that influences their social status and nothing else.
They are enrolled in university because of parental influence.
-Parent: “You’re going to be an engineer”
-Student: “haaader”
… as Sullivan humorously adds.
I find unmotivated students in every class I attend, unmotivated to think critically, unmotivated to research, and unmotivated to progress.

Sullivan introduced a reason (suggested by Queen Rania of Jordan in a past keynote) behind the unmotivated students which is named the hope deficit.
Queen Rania assessed that young Arabs find future in Arab countries as “bleak” and that there was nothing to be optimistic about. They feel that they will never be rewarded and will never achieve a good living standard. In that case, they turn to drugs, immigration, violence, revolution, and crime. “But our issue is we cant fix any of those things; our problem is they are in our classrooms,” said Sullivan.
That quote hit me hard as of its reality. I do find the unmotivated student character amongst my friends, everywhere. My friends could turn to drugs, violence, and crime (that is if they haven’t already, too late, too sad).

“A sexy powerpoint won’t give them the hope that they need,” he added.
So, how to energize those unmotivated students?
“Students work best when the professors are aware of the needs of the students as individuals not as an undifferentiated group,” he answered.
And I believe in that with all my heart. It feels relieving when professors are dealing with a student on a personal level rather than feeling that you are dealing with a robot that isn’t understanding. Fortunately, I find that in AUC; but what about my friends who are enrolled in public universities where a single class has thousands of students and definitely are not in one-on-one contact with the professors?
A professor’s job is to deal with each individual, get to know them, and get to lure them with their own language to grab their interest in the subject they teach and that is a permanent effect.

2 thoughts on “Energizing the Unmotivated – Dr. Tim Sullivan”

  1. I’m glad you bring up the issue of public universities – even within AUC where classes are small, not everyone succeeds at being close to students as individuals – but it’s much more challenging in larger classes.


  2. Merna, I am pleased that you were able to listen to my talk at AUC. I wish I saw a different set of issues than those that I addressed. I even wish that you could have told me that I was wrong, that young Arabs are fully motivated. One thing to consider is that role models are important and I hope you can serve as a positive, motivated role model for some your fellow students.

    Liked by 1 person

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