Motivation, or the newest buzz word for it, "grit," has long been a topic that educators debate. Famous is the saying that, "you can't teach kids to care," and although true, there are factors that can contribute to fostering an environment that supports, encourages, and even cultivates any amount of "grit" that a student may have. And truly, everyone cares about something. Sometimes this is the difficult part for us to realize - that students do care about something, but we just have to link what they care about to the activities in the classroom.
The simple truth is that an adjustment needs to be made for us as educators to teach skills and applications (where you would use this much needed skill) rather than the piece of literature itself. The "How" and "Why" has become, for our students, more important than the "What." I believe that this shift is most likely permanent in our classrooms of digital natives. After all, if you don't know it, you can always Google it! And this is a difficult realization for some of us.
Having said this, it is far easier said than done. Educators by and large agree that by high school, many students have lost some degree of intrinsic motivation towards the education process. "What's the point of this?," is a phrase that is not uncommonly heard in a high school setting. Fortunately, ELA has the strongest support and retort to this question and it is one that should be employed more frequently in my opinion. "Because YOU need to know how to communicate with the outside, professional world in an effective fashion so that you can be successful in whatever college, career, or instantly famous billionaire type situation (insert NBA player, Rapper, Lottery Winner, etc. here) that you imagine you will most definitely achieve."
By tying the skills and abilities that are being taught in the classroom to the students' own goals for their futures, we can regain some of that lost intrinsic motivation. But the trick is to find out, and successfully apply the students' own longer term goals.
Please check out this link regarding motivation for more information. I found it to be extremely helpful.
Cult of Pedagogy - Student Motivation