The Best Way to Motivate a Student Who Doesn’t Like Math

There is a pretty good 18 minute video of a TED talk which explains the dramatic difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators by Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation.

Dan’s video is aimed at business, but motivating a student is no different than motivating an employee.  You can use a carrot or stick, i.e. extrinsic motivator, or you can tap into intrinsic motivation.

We find that when students are presented math training which is appropriate for them and meets these five principles, they are intrinsically motivated to learn math just like a scout is motivated to earn merit badges and advance in rank, or a band member to learn to play an instrument, or an athlete to learn a sport.

  1. The student is ready for the math content presented in the training.
  2. The student can see where the math content presented might be relevant to their future interests, i.e. practical.
  3. The student is presented the material in an interactive and self paced way. Each student learns at his or her own pace.
  4. The student is given adequate exercises relevant to the topic at hand.  Math is like a sport in that practice is what makes it fun and is where the learning takes place.
  5. The student is given continual frequent feedback.  Quizzes on each topic are a good way to achieve this.

There is only one program we know of that achieves all of these indispensable principles.  It is the Practical Math Foundation Program by Craig Hane, Ph.D. aka Dr. Del.

This program takes most students about 30 to 60 hours of self paced study and practice spread over two to four months.  Yes, calculator training, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry in about three months.

If you choose to try another resource or to teach the math yourself, we highly recommend you use the above set of principles to guide you and to judge your approach.  Failure on any one of the five principles may lead to failure of the program for your student.

You may click here to use the Practical Math Foundation Syllabus as a guide.

But, if in doubt, we recommend you try Dr. Del’s Practical Math Foundation Program.  It costs only $297 for your student and is fully guaranteed.  For families or groups with multiple students, there are special discounts available.

The Practical Math Foundation Program is also a great “foundation” for those students (the 1% Mr. Bennett referred to) who do want to pursue a STEM career educational path.  How this can best be accomplished is also discussed in depth in the book, Teaching Math.

For more information, call 812-355-3030 or send an email to