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GRE Issue 58 - Learning Is Primarily A Matter Of Personal Discipline - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: “Learning is primarily a matter of personal discipline; students cannot be motivated by school or college alone. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.”

The statement claims that students cannot be motivated by school or college alone because learning is primarily a matter of personal discipline. It is true that if students are not willing to study on their own, it is tough for educational institutions alone to motivate them. Nevertheless, by doing some means, students could be motivated by schools to some extent.

As a proverb says, interest is the best teacher. Without interest, students are unlikely to learn eagerly and wholeheartedly. Because of interest being out of oneself, in this sense, learning is primarily a matter of personal discipline. Take me for example. I am very interested in reading, so I always spend my time reading various kinds of literature, ranging from novels to poetry. However, I find mathematics very boring not only because the symbols of this subjects are numerous as well as complex, but also because the concept of theory are too abstract to understand. As a result, I am unwilling to do any homework with respect to mathematics and often doze during class. So, when it comes to interest and learning, one may conclude that learning is primarily a matter of personal discipline.

However, although the claim that learning is primarily a matter of personal discipline is true, we can hardly draw the conclusion that students cannot be stimulated by schools alone. With proper pedagogy, students would be influenced and become willing to study. In most cases, teachers utilizing advanced teaching methods, such as playing videos or using IPad, might greatly stimulate students’ interest. For instance, with the help of IPad and its app “iBooks”, students are likely to have a different learning atmosphere largely because there exists pictures, videos, 3D pictures in an eBook, which provides students with interaction. Therefore, using different and interesting methodology, students can be motivated by schools.

In addition, teachers with unique personality and enduring enthusiasm would motivate their students. Their every word and behavior might have profound impacts on students, stimulating them to study and learn. Take Dead Poets Society for example. Unlike rigid and strict teachers at that time, the maverick teacher, John Keating, showed his enthusiasm about poems to their students. He not only recited beautiful verses passionately, but also did his utmost to help student appreciate the beauty of poems. Under his influence, students are finally able to enjoy the underlying meanings the poems demonstrate and thus were motivated to learn and write poems. Thus, although learning is a personal affair, schools and colleges can still serve as a stimulation to study.

In conclusion, despite the fact that learning is primarily a matter of personal discipline, students are likely to be motivated because teachers can motivate them by utilizing novel pedagogy and their passion.



In the course of your first argument, the link between interest and personal discipline is assumed rather than established. One can obviously be interested in a subject without having the personal discipline that would enable one to pursue that interest with dedication. The only other support you offer for the claim that learning is a personal matter is a personal example, which is a little banal, but also doesn’t really prove anything.

Your next paragraph seems to argue that a teacher with an ipad (for every student?) can motivate students. Playing videos and using an ipad are examples of “advanced teaching methods,” which in turn seems to be how you want to define “proper pedagogy.” This is a fairly weak argument. Perhaps there is a general argument to be made that good teachers can make subjects interesting enough that students will be motivated to learn. Using gadgetry might then be offered as one example of how a teacher might do that. Being enthusiastic (as you go on to mention in your next paragraph) might be another example. So I think those two arguments (third and fourth paragraphs) are part of the same larger argument. The Dead Poets Society is a poor example (it’s fictional) and you probably don’t need an example to justify claiming that there are enthusiastic teachers who stimulate their students intellectual or artistic curiosity.

What I think is most obviously missing from your interrogation of this issue is a sense of the other kinds of discipline that have long been used to motivate students (the whip, the grades, the parental badgering). There is also the fact that even the most unmotivated student must surely still learn something if forced to sit in a classroom through childhood and adolescence.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: hahaxiao66

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