Motivational Posters, Do They Really Motivate?

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Photo by Sara Vivas

You walk into class and a sign that says “hang in there!” with a cat dangling from a tree is carefully stapled on the otherwise bland wall. You wonder, why do teachers feel the need to put these posters up? Is it to help them get through the day handling immature high-schoolers? Is it to get the kids ‘motivated’? Why would they think we need this? Maybe they’re just trying to cheer up the students. It doesn’t matter what they might be trying to do, whatever it is, it isn’t working.

In most classrooms, there is one green wall and three white walls. The school, in an attempt to bring some color into our school and make it feel less like a prison, decided that one green wall would suffice. Why, we’ll never know, but that’s what they decided to do. Some teachers agree with this notion, so they avoid putting anything on their walls that could show that they do indeed have a personality. However, there are the select few who choose to add to their ‘colorful’ walls.

Many teachers have one or two items that show what could be going through their mind. However, nearly all of them have at least one poster saying “Courage” or “dare to be a leader” hanging. These posters can be called cheesy, cliché, and crazy, but teachers still insist upon having these brightly colored placards.

These posters have nothing to do with students’ academic success, nothing to do with their ability to focus. If anything they distract from the lessons being taught. When teachers put these posters up, they’re detracting from their lessons (and they wonder why we have trouble with our grades).

The random phrases are meant to aid in raising our self-esteem. There are posters that say “Bullying is never accepted”, and while that’s true, is a bully really going to see the poster and think, “Maybe I should stop bullying”? At least they give us something to do when we finish tests with 30 minutes to go.

Even when we are able to look at the ‘motivational’ posters after tests, it still begs the question, are the posters necessary?