How are you motivated?
Do you like to be told what to do? Neither do I. In fact; I hate it. I become rebellious. That said, I love for people to expose me to new concepts and methods of accomplishing tasks and reaching my goals. At my core I want to be better than what I think I can be, I need to be better than what others think I can be, and I want to know ways to be better, do better, etc...I just need people to show/talk to me in a way that intrigues me. I might have issues with authority and rebellion and…well, that’s another blog post.
Which of the following statements would motivate you?
1. “You need to quit eating cupcakes and exercise to get rid of your jiggly butt.” - husband to wife
2. “Playing video games all day is a waste of time, and you are getting fat!” - parent to child
3. “I would like you to be able to play with your grandkids and enjoy activities with them when you are older. Isn't that important to you?” - child to parent
4. “How can I support you to get in shape and be healthy?” - friend/mentor
5. “Dude, you are the best lineman we have, you’ve got to stay in shape during the off-season” - teammate/peer
#1 might end badly for the husband. #2 is when the child’s eyes roll and the parent gets a “whatever” response. #3 would make me think and move me to contemplate what changes need to happen. #4 I’d think it over and start to make decisions to get healthy. #5 pressure! My internal need to continue to be the best would kick in, and I’d get moving.
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within. If I find dance interesting, then I’m intrinsically motivated to dance. I get some internal reward for dancing or a negative experience if I don’t dance. Extrinsic motivation comes from something external. If my husband threatens to remove all the chocolate from our home if I don’t start exercising, I’m extrinsically motivated to pretend at least to exercise. Extrinsic motivation comes from an external reward or consequence.
Can you identify which of the above five statements is intrinsic and which is extrinsic?
In my opinion, intrinsic motivation is the most authentic and powerful form of motivation.
Most people's hobbies are intrinsically motivated. Think of the passion with which some people collect stamps or ballerinas who push their bodies to the point of bleeding toes or a starving artist driven to express himself through his music. Few people carry that amount of passion into their workplace, and that is incredibly sad. At Makarios, we want to nurture our students to pursue their hobbies and passions and to find their life calling and create a career that intrinsically motivates them. We want to offer these students the opportunity of a safe environment at an age where failure is just part of the process and doesn’t determine if they’ll have a meal on the table or be able to pay their electricity bill.
As mentors, our goal is to recognize our student’s intrinsic motivating factors and guide them from that starting point onto a path and avoid extrinsic motivators which only temporarily motivate them.
Some students will come to Makarios with known interests and talents they’d like to pursue while other students won’t have a clue what to do with their time. In fact, they might do nothing as they try to understand their newfound freedom. “Nothing” could look like reading a novel, taking naps, playing Minecraft, playing cards, doing a puzzle, chatting with friends and so on. A student might not find anything he is intrinsically interested in pursuing, and that's ok. Someday he will find it, and when he does, he’ll pursue it. This is human nature.
Trigger and support intrinsic motivation.
Our job as leaders within the community is to provide opportunities, be role models and support the students no matter where they are in their journey. If we can trigger intrinsic motivation by providing interesting subjects, activities, mentors, and projects, the students might authentically become interested and, therefore, choose to pursue the path on their own.
I typically am not intrinsically motivated to exercise nor do I appreciate extrinsic attempts at motivating me to exercise. I am stubborn that way. That said, I will continue to try new types of exercise in hopes that something will interest me and motivate me to get my body moving. I have not given up hope that some form of exercise will take hold, and I’ll wake up craving to sweat.
Intrinsic Motivation in Education? Does it have to be coerced?
A student interested in doing a project on video production would search out and watch as many tutorials and read as many articles as he can on video production. If, however, another student is doing the same project because a teacher requires it, and that student has no interest in videos, she will (might) read whatever materials are provided only to learn the information for the class to avoid getting a bad grade or maybe looking stupid to her peers. Which student is likely to remember the material a year later? Which student will probably be able to apply what they learned?
“External reinforcement may indeed get a particular act going and may even lead to its repetition, but it does not nourish, reliably, the long course of learning by which man slowly builds in his own way a serviceable model of what the world is and what it can be.
The will to learn is an intrinsic motive, one that finds both its source and its reward in its own exercise. The will to learn becomes a “problem” only under specialized circumstances like those of school, where a curriculum is set, students confined, and a path fixed. The problem exists not so much in learning itself, but in the fact that what the school imposes often fails to enlist the natural energies that sustain spontaneous learning - curiosity, a desire for competence, aspiration to emulate a model, and a deep-sensed commitment to the web of social reciprocity.”
- Jerome Bruner, In Search of Pedagogy Volume 1
They Simply Love To Do It
It’s often difficult for people to explain their intrinsic motivation for an activity beyond the fact that they love it!
In Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning, Malone and Lepper identify the following gamification factors as increasing intrinsic motivation:
· Cooperation and Competition
Dan Pink’s, Drive tells us there are three intrinsic motivators—
In the Technology Advice post “4 Real-World Examples That Explain Intrinsic Motivation” by Zach Watson, he discusses how the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) states the three factors as
He highlights the companies that have taken this intrinsic motivation trifecta to heart and explains how they have been successful due to adopting these principals; it’s an interesting analysis and worth the time to read.
Autonomy is key.
Malone and Lepper, Pink and SDT share the belief that autonomy/control is key to intrinsic motivation. In reading and researching this topic, I reviewed the various “factors” offered by the experts and have selected the following five as intrinsic motivation factors that apply to my life.
Curiosity — I want to learn more; I want to know how it works, what it does and why. I want to know if I can do it. I want to know why I can’t do it. Curiosity is to me, where it all begins.
Autonomy — I have full control over when, where, what, how and how much. No one is telling me what to do. (I love that companies such as Atlassian and FB - offer a day of pure autonomy at work and that has led to awesome products!)
Purpose — There is a purpose and special meaning that inspires me to go further. It could be the environment. Could it be an emotional attachment and ownership or accountability? Is it a bigger purpose such as to better the world or is it just to push the envelope? Is it to do something that someone said I couldn’t do?
Mastery — I want to be competent, I want to get better, I want to perfect my skill/product/service. I want to be an expert.
Relatedness — I want to interact with people who are like-minded; who wish to share knowledge; who push me to compete and be unique; who might have been at the phase I am at and have gone further and reached their goal; I want to be inspired.
So what does it look like?
I am curious about many things. My interest list is long, and the subjects I want to learn are diverse. Something intriguing to me is that I find that sometimes I see correlations between subjects as I dig into them. For example, development of a mobile app, marketing best practices and psychopathy are some interests of mine. Just recently, my study in each of these subjects has begun to overlap as I dig into gamification, target personas, neuroscience and behavioral sciences. I would not have thought these three topics would have shared threads, but they do and it has led me back to studying another interest of mine which is ADHD and how I always have a thousand projects going and can get super focused on a subject until I’ve reached my limit and then I pick up where I left off on another subject until I am bored or reached a limit there and am ready to go back to the first subject, or maybe I start a new one and so on. From experience as a mom, aunt, and friend, I see these same traits in kids. They become curious about something, they pursue it and try to master it then they reach a point where they need to take a break, and then they move onto something else.
The beauty of Makarios Community School
Simply put, Makarios offers an environment that fosters the intrinsic motivating factors. I can be curious about any subject and study it through to mastery if I choose; I can work with others who are also interested and brainstorm ideas for improvement; I belong to a community and culture within the “school” and, therefore, have a shared purpose. I can observe a person belly dancing and determine if this is the exercise for me…probably not because I have two left feet and next to no rhythm, but at Makarios, I have the opportunity to try it out if I want to. I am looking forward to being exposed to varying beliefs and new methods of doing something. I am excited about an environment that supports and encourages intrinsic motivation and learning. I am intrigued to see what these students do with their autonomy.
What would you do with your day if you were given an environment to pursue your interests and autonomy to do what you need to do?
Brown, L. V. (2007). Psychology of motivation.
Malone, T. W. & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning.
Myers, D. (2005). Exploring Psychology, Sixth Edition in Modules.
Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
Bruner, Jerome S. In Search of Pedagogy Volume 1: The Selected Works of Jerome Bruner, 1957-1978
Thomas, Kenneth. Intrinsic Motivation at Work - Building Energy & Commitment.
(Dan’s TEDTalk is interesting too: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation?language=en)