a teacher, I spend much of my class time trying to help
and encourage students to develop intrinsic motivation
rather than rely on the extrinsic motivation that our
society values so much. We should learn a topic
because we want to learn it, not because someone else
tells us we should, or because there's a reward involved
in learning it. Rewards are nice when they happen,
of course, but they're by no means the most effective
motivational tool for the development of true learning and
A person who is intrinsically motivated has many huge
advantages over those people who depend upon outside
sources for their motivation. The former is able to
wake up in the morning and find tons of interesting things
to do on his or her own; the latter won't find anything to
unless someone else shows it to them. When our
motivation comes from within, we don't have to depend upon
others to give us reasons for doing what we do, and we
thus have a freedom that the person whose motivation comes
from without simply can't experience.
I know that my students learn better when they want to
learn than they do when someone else tells them they need
to take a certain class. I know that they excel more
often when they truly want to excel than they do when
someone else is telling them that they have to
excel. I try to help them develop their intrinsic
motivation because I know that it will be a very valuable
tool for them their entire lives long, and I want to give
them tools that will last a very long time, not just today
or this week or this semester.
I've been very fortunate that most of my motivation has
come from within during my life, for there was precious
little of the external kind when I was young. And
that intrinsic motivation has helped me to accomplish many
very special things--that I most certainly would not have
accomplished without it.
Are you more strongly motivated from within, or from
How many people try to motivate us extrinsically through
rewards or threats? Does that motivate us for the
long-term, or the short?
In what ways might you practice developing you own
personal intrinsic motivation?