our everyday life

Ways to Promote Positive Attitudes Toward School

by Anthony Owens, studioD

A positive attitude about the self and the links between school and life goals boosts learning, says Harding University. Students with low self-esteem may feel helpless and blame school or even bad luck for failures. Conversely, those with relatively high self-esteem take personal responsibility for and control of outcomes. Effective strategies exist to help you develop a positive attitude about self and school, and parents and teachers can teach children to do these things, too.

Thinking Positively

The inner voice that tracks, evaluates and finally molds behavior can either increase or decrease motivation to learn. Turn "this is something I've never done before, so I can't do it now" into "it's a chance to expand my repertoire," says the Mayo Clinic. Rather than fretting that an assignment or course is too hard, try different strategies for success. Take the initiative to open lines of communication with teachers instead of just complaining about a lack of interaction. "I'm not going to get any better at this" should become "I'll keep studying and practicing until I get it." In addition to improved attitudes toward self and school, positive thinking reduces excess stress for better health and performance.

Visualizing Success

Picture succeeding at specific tasks, such as using effective test-taking strategies or giving an engaging and smart class presentation, says Linda Wong in her 2009 book, "Essential Study Skills." Doing so imprints a successful image of the self in long-term memory. Visualize not procrastinating on that presentation and meeting or exceeding the expectations for it. Feel the well-deserved kudos awaiting you. Self-motivate by frequently replaying such mental movies of academic success, but take care. A recent study suggests that fantasizing success may trick the brain into prematurely relaxing before future goals have been met, reports David DiSalvo in a 2011 article published in "Forbes." So splice in some footage of realistic obstacles and setbacks, too.

Acknowledging and Rewarding Success

Rewards for reaching realistic and specific goals in a timely manner increase motivation, says Wong. After reaching a goal, such as completing an essay, watch a movie, listen to music or talk with friends on the phone. Internal rewards include positive feelings after reaching a goal, such as pride, relief, joy, satisfaction and -- most importantly -- increased self-esteem. Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself, "good job!" Don’t just depend on kudos from others, such as family members or teachers, to feel good about yourself and school.

Relating School to Personal Goals

School can "seem grim, difficult and even meaningless if it is not related to personal goals and objectives," says the University of Alabama Center for Academic Success. Especially make connections between less favored subjects and personal goals. Calculus is so broadly applicable that many call it the language of the universe, for example. Hence, becoming more fluent in that language is at least intrinsically rewarding. Likewise, knowledge of history inspires us and makes it possible for us to spot and avoid repeating the terrible mistakes of the past. A good sense of history can -- at the very least -- inform decisions at the poll and help us all be more competent citizens in a democracy. Create a broad array of such goals to motivate yourself and feel better about any required coursework.

About the Author

Anthony Owens taught language arts at secondary institutions from 1999 to 2004 and has been teaching writing and literature at post-secondary institutions since 2010. He holds a Master of Education in instruction and learning from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Fine Arts in literature and creative writing from Bennington College in Vermont.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images