theme: The motivations underlying an individual's actions and behaviour lie in emotional forces at the unconscious level of the human mind - the intrinsic motives for learning or 'intrinsic motivation'. Intrinsic motivation is based on the developmental needs of the human organism - the 'higher psychological needs' or 'spiritual needs' as well as the 'lower psychological needs' or 'ego-needs'. Spiritual needs are needs for spiritual growth or 'maturity'  essential for human adaptation to changing social conditions i.e. 'adaptability'.  

 "The 'normalized' child's activities of work (are) related to the inner construction of the personality. The motivation to learn derives from this source. Teaching which corresponds to this motivation is functional in the child's development. The child's response is the best guide for the teacher. The child's interest and concentration indicates the extent of effectiveness of the teaching methodology in practice. The child loses motivation when the work is directed to an external goal. Teaching for external goals is not functional in the child's development." (Mario Montessori. Education for Human Development. Schocken Books, New York. 1967 page 67.)


motivation as intrinsic to the human organism as a social organism...

highest consciousness state most effective for adaptability...

  biological basis: prefrontal lobes...

human motives for learning or 'human needs'...  human needs and learning emotions... human needs and education...  

 mature growth or 'self-actualisation'...  self-actualising individual...

implications for education...

Motivation is intrinsic to the human organism as a social oganism An understanding of human learning behaviour depends on the holistic perspective of the human organism as a social organism i.e. 'human nature'. The  nature of any biological organism is a function of the instinctive motivation for learning which leads to  adaptive learning and behaviour i.e. 'adaptability'. The human organism is similarly motivated for adaptability. Human adaptability depends on the capacity for initiative and sustained concentration on a specific goal with a view to delayed response i.e. 'intrinsic motivation'. Intrinsic motivation maintains a proper balance between action and restraint and provides the individual with the sense of direction and the energy which they need in their efforts to adapt to changing social conditions. Intrinsic motivation is required for adaptation and survival

The highest consciousness state - 'transpersonal state' - is the most effective for human responsiveness to change or 'adaptability' The different types of motivation or 'motivational states' depend on the extent to which the human needs have been met in the individual's development. The range of motivational states is a function of the level of personality development or 'mental health'. An individual's mental health depends on the sociocognitive level of moral development or 'morality' i.e. their level of moral consciousness or 'consciousness state'. Fully functioning consciousness of the so-called 'highest consciousness state' is the most effective for human adaptability. Attainment depends on complete personality development which is a function of development of conscience - the human 'soul'. Development of conscience which is required for adaptability of the human organism as a social organism is a function of appropriate education based on the human potential for holistic learning i.e. 'optimalearning'.


  "Two stonecutters were engaged in similar activity. Asked what they were doing, one answered "I'm squaring up this block of stone." The other replied, "I'm building a cathedral." The first may have been underemployed; the second was not. Clearly what counts is not so much the work a person does, but what he perceives he is doing it for." (Abraham Maslow. Toward a Psychology of  Being. 1968)

   Biological basis of intrinsic motivation: Motivation is a function of the 'prefrontal lobes'  The human organism is a social organism which belongs to the primate order of the human species - knowing man or 'homo sapiens'. One of the most striking features which differentiates homo sapiens from its ancestral species - upright man or 'homo erectus' is the high forehead. The high forehead of homo sapiens is associated with the development of the frontal lobes of the brain. Evolution of the frontal lobes probably occurred rapidly in the Middle Pleistocene era.

The frontal lobes play an important part in the development of balanced personality. Associated with development of the human personality, frontal lobe development is a function of the unique human capacity for 'motivation'. As a unique feature of human personality development, motivation is the characteristically human capacity to perform actions which produce delayed responses and rewards. Motivation is the expression of the capacity for initiative and sustained attention and concentration of one's attention on a goal. As a capacity related to causes of action and motives for behaviour, the human capacity for motivation is required for adaptive behaviour and for survival. The extreme front part of the frontal lobes - the prefontal lobes - is responsible for motivation.

 Motivation is an intrinsic function of the development of the prefontal lobes.The prefrontal lobes are responsible for initiative and the maintenance of the proper balance between actions and restraint - sustained attention and the resulting delayed responses and rewards. The proper functioning of the prefrontal lobes is the biological basis for the ability to concentrate for long periods on demanding tasks. It is the basis for the characteristically human ability for productivity or 'work'.

As a function of the development of the prefrontal lobes, motivation is a characteristically human capacity which is necessary for adaptive behaviour and survival of the human organism as a social organism. Human survival depends on the human capacity for motivation. Like any other biological organism, the human organism is intrinsically motivated for behaviour which is adaptive to its environment. The human organism as a social organism is similarly motivated for behaviour which is adaptive to its social environment. Adaptive behaviour depends on the accuracy of the individual's perception of the social environment and on the way in which the individual thinks about it. Accuracy of the individual's knowledge and understanding depends on the unconscious motivations and thought patterns... 'cognitive structures'. The individual's thought patterns determine the accuracy of evaluation which in turn determines the degree of adaptability of behaviour. Human survival depends on the capacity for adaptation to a changing social environment and social adaptability depends on the capacity for motivation and work.

    Intrinsic motivation is a function of the individual's unconscious or 'intrinsic' motives for behaviour i.e. 'human needs'. 

 The key to motivation is recognition of needs. "Human evolution is rooted in man's adaptability and in certain indestructible qualities of his nature which compel him never to cease his search for conditions better adjusted to his intrinsic needs" (Fromm. Man For Himself, 23)

The hierarchy of human needs in terms or urgency or 'prepotency' Human needs are human motives for behaviour or 'motivations'. Human motivations lie at the subconscious level of brain functioning Unconscious motivations and give rise to emotional forces known as 'deep meanings' or 'drives' of human behaviour i.e. the 'learning emotions'.  Deep meanings and drives are at the core of intrinsic motives for behaviour.The subconscious emotions determine the nature of the individual's thinking or 'cognition'. Depending on the nature of the individual's motivation, cognitive activity leads to interpetation and evaluation of the environment and subsequent  behaviour or 'action' which can be creative and 'adaptive' or destructive and 'non-adaptive'. Learning emotions  provide the sense of direction and the energy required for learning and adapting to changes in the social environment. There is a hierarchy of needs in terms of urgency or 'prepotency'. The range of human needs includes the most prepotent physiological 'survival needs' for physical security - food, water, shelter and so on; the so-called 'basic psychological needs' or 'ego-needs' for psychological security and belongingness or 'self-esteem - care and affection; the 'higher psychological needs' or 'growth needs' - the 'spiritual needs' (spiritual love, lovingkindness or 'compassion') for 'ego  or self-transcendance' i.e. 'metaneeds' for mature growth or 'self-actualisation'. Self-actualisation is not the end of growth... not the path to maturity but the path of maturity.

 Mature growth or 'self-actualisation' Self-actualisation involves the harmonisation of psychic forces (such as the 'digestion of memory' as 'storytelling') which frees the individual from the limitations of the 'ego-life' and allows them to live in the spiritual realm of human existence i.e. the realm of 'self-transcendance' or 'being'. Self-actualisation is a function of the unfolding of human 'values for living' - the 'social values' or 'morals' of 'morality' - the moral faculty for accurate evaluation of the social environment... and leads to effective decision-making and successful adaptation i.e. 'social intelligence'.  Social intelligence depends on motivation by the metaneeds i.e. 'metamotivation'. Metamotivation is functional in the process of self-actualisation as mature growth and development of 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'. Development of conscience or 'character' - the human 'soul' - depends on creativity and productivity or 'work'. Through meaningful work, the growth motivated or 'mature' individual is 'self-actualised' or 'self-actualising'.

The self-actualising individual is motivated by the growth needs and lives in the realm of being values of morality or 'ethics' Motivated by the growth needs, their motivation is synonymous with self-actualisation. Their whole being is motivated. Their productivity results from the effects of profound 'being-motivation' or 'metamotivation'. Metamotivation is a function of communion with what transcends the ego and makes it easily possible to live in the realm of the Being-needs of growth. They naturally make choices within the framework of the intrinsic system of human values which are equivalent to the B-needs i.e. the 'Being-values' or B-values ...the 'higher' spiritual values or metaneeds which satisfy the human longing fo freedom, love, certainty wholeness, perfection, truth, justice, aliveness, richness, simplicity, beauty, goodness, uniqueness, self-sufficiency and so on. Living in the realm of the metaneeds self-actualising individuals lead ethical lives. They live by a rational ethical value system - 'rational ethics'. They are responsible to themselves making decisions in their own true interest, and at the same time responsible to others making decisions in the interest of society. They have a genuine desire to be responsible to others, to help others... 'altruism'. Metamotivation contrasts with the control of motivation by deficiency of the basic psychological needs i.e. deficiency or 'deficit motivation'. Deficit motivation is a function of dependence on others as sources of supply for their gratification needs... requires constant adaptability to fit the environment which they perceive as non-reliable and this contributes to their general anxiety, hostility and lack of freedom.

Human needs give rise to the different 'learning emotions'  "The purest act of cognition relies upon interest from the affective side to energize it. An emotion generated from within the moral sphere will derive its meaning to the individual from the sociocognitive stage of moral development that he is at." (Rosen) Human needs determine the nature of the different types of motivation or 'motivational types' which give rise to different 'learning emotions'. Motivational type depends on the individual's level of psychological or 'moral development' i.e. 'sociocognitive stage' of 'personality development'. If personality development is thwarted then the individual is motivated by 'negative learning emotions' characteristic of thwarted growth which leads to 'neurotic development' or 'neurosis' - fear, frustration, confusion, disorientation and agony.


If personality development is encouraged then the individual is motivated by the 'positive learning emotions' characteristic of self-actualisation - curiosity, wonder and reverential fear or 'awe'

 Natural curiosity is the source of 'intrinsic motivation' for learning. "...It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail." (Albert Einstein cited in Carl Rogers. Freedom To Learn. Columbus, Ohio: Charles Merrill Publishing Co. 1969)

Human needs must be met during development: role of 'education' During development, each set of needs becomes apparent as the more urgent needs are met ('sensitive periods') and motivations for behaviour shift from a strong expression of motivation of deficiency - 'deficiency motivation' - to the subtle expression of motivation of sufficiency - 'growth motivation'. The well developed or 'balanced' personality is motivated by the metaneeds. Motivation by the metaneeds is 'metamotivation' - the most effective type of motivation for adaptation to rapidly changing social conditions.


Human adaptability depends on effective learning driven by 'curiosity', accurate interpretation or 'perception' and correct evaluation or 'critical thought'. Whatever the motivational state, intrinsic motivation is driven by the instinctive need to make meaning of the environment or 'learn'. Learning is the capacity for observation and inquiry (curiosity) which is necessary for the organism to acquire the information, knowledge and understanding upon which it depends for accurate interpretation or 'perception' of the social reality. Curiosity is a function of the  attention on the environment for the knowledge which  can be derived from it - an instinctive emotion because it is rooted in the instinct for  'self-preservation'.


Perception depends on the individual's thought patterns which can be critical, constructive and accurate (complete cognition of 'holistic perception') or else non-critical, destructive and inaccurate (incomplete cognition of non-holistic perception). Accuracy of perception leads to evaluation of the social reality (accurate or inaccurate) and subsequent behaviour (creative and 'adaptive' or destructive and 'non-adaptive') depending on the extent of completeness behaviour. Behaviour is creative and adaptive or non-creative and non-adaptive depending on the individual's capacity for observation and inquiry or 'critical' thinking. Critical thought patterns produce accurate evaluations and creative or 'adaptive' behaviour. Non-critical thought patterns produce inaccurate evaluations and destructive or 'non-adaptive' behaviour. Adaptability of behaviour which depends on accuracy of evaluation (knowledge) and perception (understanding) ultimately depends on the individual's motivational state which is a function of the individual's unconscious motivations and how they affect the individual's thought patterns - their capacity for 'critical thinking' or 'reason'.

Learning with personal meaning Learning of personal involvement is self-initiated, is pervasive, is evaluated by the learner and has meaning as its essence. "When is one free from tests or other types of institutional press?..... only when one submits oneself to them and rises above them." (41) "Changingness, a reliance on process rather than upon static knowledge, is the only thing that makes sense as a goal for education in the modern world."(104) The facilitation oflearning is the aim of education." (105) "The facilitation of significant learning rests upon certain attitudinal qualities which exist in the personal relationship between the facilitator and the learner."(106) The attitudinal qualities: the most important is 'genuineness,' congruent. - to be real about oneself. He is a vital person, with feelings and convictions. He can be authentic, expressing feelings of enthusiasm, boredom, anger, sensitivity, sympathy - accepting these feelings as his own without needing to impose them on the students; able to share feelings of anger and frustration as well as feelings of sweetness and light. An important attitude: having a basic trust, 'prizing' the learner, his feelings, his opinions, his person; caring without being possessive. "The facilitator's prizing or acceptance of the learner is an operational expression of his essential confidence and trust of the human organism." Another important attitude: 'empathic understanding' - understand what's it is like to in the other's shoes. (157- 165)

 The educational process for the child means the instinctive development of his individuality and so must allow for the complete emotional and psychic as well as intellectual maturation into an adult personality with self-determination, self-respect, and self discipline. The educational process becomes effective when a child enjoys learning for learning's sake. He can enjoy learning in the framework of creation which comes from his own powers of imagination and natural curiosity in the world around him. The teacher is a resource and provider of resources. And the educator, whether in the administrative or instructional capacities of school or government, has the very great responsibility of leading students to use their own minds - to learn to think.

"Real freedom is a consequence of development; it is the consequence of latent guides, aided by education. It is the construction of the personality, reached by effort and one's own experiences; it is the long road which every child must take to reach maturity... Development cannot be taught." (Montessori Absorbent Mind)

Human capacity for reason depends on brain development or 'intelligence  Human adaptability depends on development of the human organ specialised for processing of information and creation of meaning or 'learning'. Learning is a natural functionof the 'brain'. The human brain is a social brain with the potential capacity for development of the intelligence required for adaptation to changing social conditions i.e. 'social intelligence'. The human capacity for social intelligence depends on optimal functioning of the brain or 'optimalearning'.... a function of 'creative intelligence'.

"Arrested curiosity stays on the plane of interest in local gossip and prying inquisitiveness into other peoples' business". (John Dewey. How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Refelective Thinking to the Educative Process. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company , 1933 40)

 Motivation is a significant dimension of optimal health or 'wellness'

 "Motivation would also be a significant dimension of health. The most widely accepted transpersonal model of motivation owes a great deal to Abraham Maslow.

Implications for education: education for responsibility of freedom... 'discipline' as self-discipline' 

 In the wholistic paradigm of education, understanding of the learning process is based on the consideration of the learner from a wholistic perspective of the human organism as a social organism... emphasis is placed on the learner's intrinsic motives for learning.

Education for adaptability depends on the understanding of the role of intrinsic motivation in effective learning. Intrinsic motivation is the driving force for creative learning and productive engagement with the environment i.e. ‘work’. Productive work engages the development of the personality through freedom for intrinsically motivated learning or 'meaningful learning'. Meaningful learning is the basis adaptability to the responsibilities of freedom i.e. 'responsible freedom'.

"Discipline is born when the child concentrates his attention on some object that attracts him and which provides him not only with a useful exercise but with a control of error." (Maria Montessori The Absorbent Mind 264)

Responsible freedom depends on education of the whole person i.e. 'holistic education.'