What is ‘motivation porn’, and why does Higher Education seem addicted to it?

Fruits of the pedagogic life

Dr Nicola Rivers and Dr Dave Webster. 

In our recent work, looking at discourses of ‘resilience’ and ‘grit’ in Higher Education, we have made only passing reference to a phenomenon that seems to occupy much of the same narrative space, namely motivation porn. The term ‘motivation porn’ refers to a form of narrative that seeks to associate success with perseverance, and digging deep, telling the inspiring story of the student who overcame an array of difficulties, and then, despite it all, received a First-Class Degree. Of course, we are not against celebrating success, and there is often much to celebrate in the achievements of our students, but these stories should not be used in the service of shaming fellow students who haven’t managed to ‘beat the odds’ or promoting the idea that individualised understandings of resilience can substitute for collective support or systemic change.

Our use of the term…

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