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"Any Boy Can Be a Succesful Learner"
- Dr. Edmond J. Dixon
Dr. Dixon's Blog  
What Video Game Makers Know About How Your Son Learns that 
by Edmond J. Dixon, PhD

Does your son play video games obsessively but put less effort into his school work?

Today I’ll show you what video game creators know that you don’t and how you can use that knowledge to help your son succeed better in school! 

Parents often fret that their sons are “gaming their lives away” and many worry about the powerful hold video games seem to have in boys lives. A boy who can’t sit still for 10 minutes to do his homework will spend hours motionless in front of a video game. The reason for this is much deeper than the fact that video games are fun and homework is, well, work. 

The games themselves are based on powerful pathways for learning that have motivated males to success for thousands of years. Indeed what boys love about these games is that they LEARN with them. That’s right, learn: How to work in the game environment, how to overcome obstacles, how to work with others and how to be successful. 

So what are these pathways? They are the 6 Secrets of  boys learning that you can use as a parent to help your son be successful in the larger game of school and life. 

Look at this picture:


Each one of these is a powerful trigger for boys’ motivation, understanding, and success in learning. They have been used everywhere males have been successful, but we often don’t use them to help boys learn in their school work.

When we do, magic happens and boys improve their abilities to sit still and be focused, complete homework without nagging, put forth their best effort, avoid distractions and stay on task. 

Most importantly, these pathways deeply engage boys in their own learning and that is crucial if you want your son to become a passionate, confident, independent learner who can handle whatever school or life throws at him.

Now, your son’s learning success in math is not what video game makers are aiming at when they use these secrets—they’re not in the  business of making your son successful in school. They’re in the business of selling video games.

On the other hand, it’s really good news to know that they use learning to do it. And you can use them at home to help him be more successful in many areas of learning—not to mention reduce the stress at homework time! 

You can get a free tip-sheet on how to use them at homework time here!  

Now I have a fun challenge for you: Take a look at the following 30 second PlayStation®  commercial and see if you can identify each of the 6 Secrets…

It’s quick—but they’re all there!

Did You See them All? 

Check below to see if you were right!

What do you think? 

Do you see these things appeal to your son in his video games or elsewhere in his life? 

How do you think you could use them to help him do better in school..?

Motivating Your Son 
to Success in School  
by Edmond J. Dixon, PhD

There are few things more frustrating for a parent than seeing your son unmotivated and underachieving in school. You–more than anyone–know the tremendous potential he has within him. You probably also know he loves to learn and have seen him do so outside of school with video-games, sports, and other things he loves to do.

Why can’t he do that in school? Is it his fault?…The teacher’s fault?…Your fault? 

What will motivate him there? There’s good news for you if you are tempted to despair because of your son’s school situation.

Motivation is Key to School Success

It's important to recognize that your concern about his motivation is valid and important. Success in school is still the number one indicator of future economic opportunity, social integration and feelings of personal self worth. Many people go through life with a deep, subconscious belief that they are failures because of their school experience. Males with this feeling will often mask it with bravado or anger, but it negatively affects how they live their lives and the risks that they will take in learning and self-improvement.

It’s not fair, but it’s true. 

It’s also true that motivation forms the foundation of school success because it causes engagement in learning and brain science has made it clear there can be no learning without engagement. Once you solve the motivation problem, the pathway to improvement in any area is wide open!

Where to Find the Motivation Switch for Your Son

Many parents spend many fruitless hours trying to motivate their sons. They try many things such as nagging, threats, bribes, and guilt. They search out Tutors, try and change their son’s friends, or find them other teachers. 

But none of those things really recognizes the truth of the matter. All motivation comes from within. We talk about motivating someone, but that’s a misnomer. They motivate themselves . All we can do is provide a trigger that shows them how to get what they desire.

It may seem like this is just playing with words but it’s not. It’s crucial to your success in helping your son to be motivated in school because your job is now going to be to understand what motivates him instead of how you can motivate him. This takes a lot of the negative emotions out of the process that can prevent you from finding the keys to his success. What you’re really looking for are the triggers to your son’s motivation.

The 6 Secrets of Male Motivation

Brain science and my own work with many thousands of boys has shown that you can successfully trigger any boy’s motivation by using these pathways:


Your son learns where the action is. Neuroscience has confirmed that boys develop more brain-wiring for movement than girls at early ages. This is why they love to move, fidget in class, and want to be wherever the action is. It also explains why they can sit still for so long playing video games: Those games are saturated with movement!


He when he can compete. Boys have profound learning experiences in games because they receive a shot of testosterone when they set goals and achieve them. If boy see learning as something they can compete and “win” at, they achieve higher. However, if they don’t think they can win in school because they aren’t smart enough, they will often refuse to play the game.


Boys love “funny” things. They often can veer into inappropriate or crude topics, but humor is an important tool for boys’ learning. It helps them feel comfortable with new concepts, engage in teamwork, and take on new challenges. It is a therefore a very effective way for adults to leverage boys’ interest and commitment to learning


In their desire to release testosterone by winning, boys are drawn to challenge. It helps them learn because through challenge they discover things about themselves and their environment. When parents and teachers present challenges, they can improve the motivation and resilience of boys faced with difficult learning tasks.


Success for any boy ultimately comes when he takes ownership for his own learning. He longs for mastery and will work very hard to achieve it if he sees the pathway to attain it and is allowed to control the way he pursues it. When boys make decisions about attaining mastery in school learning, however, their brains have evolved to want to know its usefulness. And that’s where the final secret is so critical…


“Why do we have to learn this?” is more than a way for a lazy boy to avoid doing work. It is essential for him to understand the importance and meaning of the task at hand and where he fits into it. Boys long to commit themselves to “heroic” tasks if they see that their efforts can make a difference. We have found that when a parent helps a boy to do this, his success.

How Can Parents Use these Secrets?

You may be thinking, “Ok, but how can I–as busy parent–use them to motivate my son at home?”  There are very simple and practical ways that you can use these powerful pathways to help your son be motivated when working in school, doing homework, or when confronting school projects. 

How Can Parents Use these Secrets?

You may be thinking, “Ok, but how can I–as busy parent–use them to motivate my son at home?”  There are very simple and practical ways that you can use these powerful pathways to help your son be motivated when working in school, doing homework, or when confronting school projects. 

Where to Start

Start by taking our Free 3 Minute Motivation Quiz. You'll see where your son rates in school motivation and then get a tip sheet to help him based on his needs!

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