Getting Real About Motivational Posters

You may be sitting beneath one right now. No doubt there are several hanging in your local school. I refer to the motivational poster.

Its design elements are familiar enough:

  1. Character trait, printed in large, white letters against the stark black background;
  2. Printed below, a statement evoking the spirit of the trait - a call to action;
  3. Finally, looming above both – an awe-inspiring photographic image, featuring sweeping landscapes and sun beamed silhouettes of human forms –  generic, faceless, without a name or identity.

Don’t get me wrong, I love motivational posters. They stir in young and old alike an exhilarating sense of life’s potential. But we all know that beautiful photograph which draws our initial attention, is, at best, a compromise.

Motivational posters are a great way to start a conversation about bravery, honesty, integrity – but sooner or later young people need to see the trait exemplified in the real world or that poster will soon mock its original intentions.

In the absence of authenticity, lessons in bravery, tenacity, respect quickly become exercises in vocabulary building, not character building.

“American Police Officer”, a new course in character building from the Junior Police Academy, replaces those stock photography stand-ins with their real world counterparts.

Nail down the "Take Away"

Sometimes a law enforcement guest speaker will struggle with ways of making their specific role in law enforcement relevant to students. To address this, JPA has created an online gallery of custom “motivational posters” designed to help guest speakers quickly nail down the "take away".  

Our collection of posters, which include the seven traits and various synonyms, are a quick and efficient way to brief a guest speaker:  "Talk about the Coast Guard, but in the context of courage".