Enhancing pupil motivation through an alternative curriculum: Valuing youth-selected activities

Wendy Bignold


This paper suggests that if activities selected by young people themselves as part of their leisure time were incorporated into an alternative (informal) curriculum this could enhance motivation, and, therefore, achievement, within the formal curriculum. Working from the premise that unicycling is a lifestyle sport, the paper argues that unicycling is an example of a self-selected activity which inspires motivation in young people which could potentially be harnessed in the education system.

The paper draws on an ethnographic, doctoral research project which examines case studies of young people who unicycle. Data gathered so far from participant observations, focus groups and questionnaires, suggests three significant findings. Firstly, that young people who are successful at unicycling are motivated to learn, and then further develop their skill level, by the challenge and intense satisfaction felt from clear goal setting and achievement. Secondly, that unicycling has a positive impact on individuals, triggering achievement behaviour. Thirdly, teachers are not harnessing the high levels of motivation created in individuals by unicyclin. By not valuing the individual’s skills or interests in school, either formally or informally, teachers are missing an opportunity to maintain pupils’ engagement.

Bignold, W. (2009) Enhancing pupil motivation through an alternative curriculum: Valuing youth-selected activities. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 2(1). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=483 [Accessed 14 Apr, 2024].