“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire” – W.B Yeats
I have been thinking about this idea a lot lately how motivation is either internally or externally driven. As I get older I am finding that most of my motivation comes intrinsically – that is from within. There has always been this thought that adults and children are inherently ‘lazy’ and that they can’t learn or motivate themselves on their own without any method of external control when this is simply not true! It has also been shown time and time again that providing too many external rewards can interfere with our natural enjoyment of an activity and the intrinsic process.
Doing things simply because you love doing it and you are not doing it for any external reason is a powerful skill to learn. However, it is really about first unlearning all of the reward based systems that you were brought up in. Interestingly enough constantly rewarding children or telling them that they are doing great has actually found to be bad for the learning process because they will then not try as hard for themselves to improve and get better. Once kids know basic reading and writing they then have the ability to teach themselves almost anything! As adults, we also have the ability to learn new concepts and ideas at any age!
“We need to look at learning as the product of educational self-organisation” – Sugata Mitra
Why should we care about intrinsic motivation?
When we are filled up and passionate about our work magic things happen! As computers take over more and more routine jobs the ability to innovate, create and be original are going to be highly sort after skills. Rather than knowing a lot of general knowledge people will need to have high-level specific knowledge in niche areas. It can take years to get to this level of amercement in a subject. You might not even get any external rewards for some time. Developing intrinsic motivation and figuring out how to motivate yourself to work and learn with little to no external reward could be incredibly rewarding as time goes on.
5 Traits to meet for the greatest intrinsic motivation! (All of these ideas are sourced from this brilliant video by RSA ANIMATE – a must watch)
1. MEET YOUR BASIC NEEDS FIRST:
If you are struggling to feed and clothe yourself and meet your basic needs it is really hard to be creative or get to that higher level of creative thinking. Don’t be a starving artist! Make sure you are working to support yourself and meet all of your basic needs so that you can then get onto all of the next things that will help to increase your intrinsic motivation. That being said if you are too comfortable it is going to work against you. You have to be a little bit uncomfortable and striving for more to be able to motivate yourself to get to that next level!
2. MAKE LEARNING SELF-DIRECTED:
Your motivations must be somewhat self-directed and autonomous. Being self-directed means that you decide upon your work, you set your own goals, and you work at your own pace. This is going to allow you the greatest intrinsic motivation, and the most creative level of thinking and connection between ideas. Creativity and innovation are all about connecting strange and disparate ideas together. Being self-directed gives you a much greater ability to get to this level of creative thinking and flow.
3. WORK ON PERSONAL MASTERY:
People love growth. It keeps us excited and focused about living. We always want to feel like we are growing in whatever we have chosen to do. When we learn a new skill and we are intrinsically motivated we want to get better at it not necessarily for any external reward just because it gives us satisfaction to see ourselves improving and getting better.
4. CONTRIBUTE TO THE LARGER WORLD:
Giving value to others and not expecting anything back in return is incredibly fulfilling. We all want to feel like our journey here on this earth meant something and that we had some sort of impact – however small. Contribution helps to give us meaning to our life! Give back, help and support others rather than just exist for your own individual needs.
5. BE PURPOSE DRIVEN:
Get down with your purpose. Why are you here? What is your mission? What special skills do only you know that you can then give and teach to others? We are all here to do something. We are all born with special gifts and talents that we need to explore. Move towards the light. If it makes you happy keep doing it. Keep learning and keep growing!
Sugata Mitra is a pioneering researcher on how children can teach themselves to learn anything through using the computer, teaching other children and participating in online cloud based schooling environments. Watch his amazing talk.
25 Ways to Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation from Open Colleges
(Photo: Mandy Beerly)