link: problem of motivation

                    PROBLEM OF MOTIVATION TO WORK:


theme: It is possible to resolve the problem of motivation with an understanding of a science of education which is based on insights of human biology - the neurosciences, psychobiology and human psychology. Human motivation is a function of human personality development which in turn is a function of learning directed towards mature personal growth or 'self-actualisation' i.e. 'meaningful learning'.

"The problem of motivation is at the heart of the teaching crisis in the States" (Paulo Freire)

What is the 'problem of motivation' The 'problem of motivation' refers to the  decline in motivation resulting from the imposition of non-meaningful learning and student passivity. The passive role of the student is the cause of declining motivation which is at the root of the so-called 'educational crisis'. It is the problem of motivation which puts into question the hierarchical and mechanical methodology of the traditional paradigm of education. Schools are faced with a dilemma: how motivate students to work within the framework of the officially controlled instruction?

What kind of instruction can be offered within the framework of a curriculum which meets the 'needs of society' and at the same time respects the learner's natural motivation for learning?

Traditional paradigm of education is based on the assumption that knowledge is finite and can be possessed: passive role of student - 'student passivity' - is cause for declinig motivation  The traditional paradigm of education is based on the moral codes or 'moralism' of 'Protestantism'. The Protestant moralist view perceives social problems in terms of the individual's lack of a moral sense of what is 'right' and 'wrong'. As a result social reform is conceived in terms of helping the individual through 'discipline' and enforcement of the 'law'. Institutionalisation of the law is the basis for moralistic aims of education such as bringing about desired 'behavioural outcomes' through conditioned learning or 'conditioning'. The notion of learning as conditioning is justified by principles of behavioural psychology or 'behaviourism'. The 'behavioural paradigm' of education is based on the assumption that knowledge is finite and can be possessed... and that as a possession it can be transferred from a person in authority - the 'teacher' to another person as the passive recipient - the 'student'... 'teacher/student contradiction'.

 "One of the most important issues of 'education' in its broad context (developing the mind) revolves around the matter of faith in the educability of humanity. There are those who do not have this faith in people's educability. They believe in the 'inherent inequality' of people - only some people can be responsible with an 'education'. and the rest should be 'acculturated and socialized'. (See remark of Jerome Bruner below) There are others who do have faith in peoples' educability. They believe that everyone can be educated to be free and responsible. They believe that it is the responsibility of the 'educators' to provide the necessary conditions which allow all people to develop their human potential." (David Purpel, 1989. The Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education: A Curriculum for Justice and Compassion in Education. MA.: Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc. 10)

Teacher/student contradiction The student/teacher contradiction makes for education as domination and manipulation. Education is defined in terms of attendance at school or 'schooling'. Schooled learning is defined in terms of 'content' rather than as 'process'. The emphasis on the technical aspects of teaching...

and fails to educate for the 'needs of the individual' as a member of constantly changing society. Traditional schooling has not provided adequate preparation required to meet the challenges of a changing global community.The result is the continued trivialisation of educational issues in the form of a so-called 'educational crisis'. There is a general decline in motivation and people are given the message that schools can make serious changes in education without making changes in the cultural assumptions concerning the purposes of education. But it is the passive role of the student which is the cause of declining motivation at the root of the educational crisis. The 'problem of motivation' puts into question the hierarchical and mechanical methodology of the traditional paradigm of education. 

A practicable solution to the problem of motivation depends on shifting the direction of inquiry to a holistic perspective of the human organism as a social organism. 

 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 opractice. The child loses motivation when the work is directed to an external goal.

The human organism is a social organism with social needs... 'human values' The human organism is a social organism with a social brain. The unique feature which differentiates the brain of humans from other primates is its capacity for concentrated attention for a long period of time. This capacity for concentration is 'motivation'. The human capacity for motivation is a function of personality development... development of the 'prefontal lobes'. As a social organism the human individual is instinctively motivated to relate to others - to 'socialise' and to 'assimilate' - in order to acquire the things which it needs for work and for defence. Motivations for socialisation and assimilation are intrinsic to the nature of the human personality i.e. 'human nature'. Human nature is defined in terms of instinctive motives for human thought and behaviour rooted in the instinct for self-preservation and the organismic striving for 'mature growth' or 'self-actualisation'  i.e. 'human needs'. Human needs are biologically based 'value choices' or 'operative values' involved in the unfolding of human powers and human potential for 'wholeness' or 'health' i.e. 'well-being' or 'wellness'. Human wellness depends on respect for basic and higher psychological needs as well as physiological needs for survival. The 'basic psychological needs' - the 'ego needs' for self-respect and self-esteem - depend on others for communication of security through 'unconditional love'. The 'higher psychological needs' - the needs for 'normal growth' as 'spiritual growth i.e. 'growth needs' as 'spiritual needs' or 'metaneeds' for 'ego-transcendance' - depend on autonomy and self-reliance. The metaneeds are 'social values' of social cooperation or 'socialisation' required for successful adaptation to changing social conditions i.e. 'adaptability'. Human adaptability depends on education for development of the 'spiritual equipment' which combines the understanding of reason with the wisdom of compassion and ensures the connectedness of human beings as social beings i.e. 'creative intelligence' or 'social intelligence'.

Social intelligence is a function of rational negotiation of meaning or 'dialogue' as the process of acquiring knowledge which is valid or 'authentic .

Authentic knowledge is developed through learning which involves the construction and negotiation of meaning... 'dialogue'  Knowledge is not finite but changes. Knowledge as 'meaning' is constructed  through 'inner dialogue' of contemplation and the meaning is negotiated with others through 'outer dialogue' of discussion.

Intrinsic motivation is drive behind human acquisition of knowledge  Social intelligence depends on growth motivation based on human needs which are intrinsic to the organism i.e. 'intrinsic motivation'. The emotional forces of intrinsic motivation are the unconscious 'drives' which provide the individual with the sense of direction and the energy needed to carry out the tasks of living i.e. 'felt meanings' or 'deep meanings'. Deep meanings function as organizers of life experience. They determine the individual's way of perceiving the world... their way of organizing their own world and their own life. They describe the focal points around which thoughts and ideas are organized... they 'seed' the individual's thinking in the same way that a fragment of grit seeds the formation of a pearl in the oyster. They can be likened to 'thematic attractors' of the new 'science of complexity'. Access to the power of deep meanings of the unconscious gives people the direction and the power with which they perceive the work they do... their passions and their accomplishments.

The so-called 'problem of motivation' is a problem of the inability to adapt to changes in the environment... a problem of 'inadaptability'

Motivation is process of adaptation Motivation is about adaptation to changing environmental conditions i.e. 'adaptability'. Any biological organism is intrinsically motivated for behaviour which is adaptive to its environment. For the human organism, adaptation and survival depends on creative or productive and therefore adaptive behaviour. Human adaptive behaviour is based on the instinctive need to make meaning of the complexity of environmental stimuli... to 'learn'. Learning is a natural function of the 'meaning-maker' or 'brain'. The human brain is a social brain which is specialized for motivation to learn with a view to making accurate evaluations for adaptation to a changing social environment. Social adaptability depends on the capacity for accurate evaluation. Accuracy of evaluation depends on unconscious motivations which indirectly determine the degree of adaptability of thought and behaviour. The natural capacities for inquiring, observing and thinking can be 'critical', or 'uncritical', creative or destructive and the corresponding behaviour which results will be adaptive or non-adaptive depending on the degree of accuracy of evaluation. Inaccurate evaluation produces behaviour which is destructive and 'non-adaptive'. Accurate evaluation produces behaviour which is creative and 'adaptive'. Adaptive behaviour depends on motivation. Motivation is directly related to the problem of adaptation to a changing environment. Motivation is naturally related to compelling interest in exploring or mastering a subject, topic or skill. 'Optimal motivation' or 'metamotivation' is characteristic of the balanced personality and a function of developed 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'. The conscience is the source of human values required for effective social adaptation.

The extent to which the conscience is developed determines the individual's value system and the corresponding type of motivation or 'motivational type'.

The different types of motivation (motivational type) depend on the level of personality development  The motivational type or 'personality type' is determined by the extent to which the individual's human needs are met. The different types of motivation depend on the individual's level of psychological, intellectual and moral development i.e. 'sociocognitive stage'. The type of motivation is a dimension of personality development or 'mental health'. Mental health and personal development depends on the environmental conditions of 'education' which are offered to meet the range of human needs. Human needs which lie in the unconscious level of the mind extend from basic needs of survival and security through ego-needs of self-esteem and belongingness to spiritual needs of 'self-actualization' and 'ego-transcendance'. As needs are satisfied on the different levels, motives for behaviour shift from strong to subtle and from expressions of deficiency to expressions of sufficiency. As one level of needs is satisfied, the next level becomes apparent. Needs at the 'higher' end of the scale are the 'spiritual needs' or 'metaneeds'. Motivation by the metaneeds is 'motivation of sufficiency' or 'metamotivation'. Motivation by deficiency of the ego needs is 'motivation of deficiency' or 'deficit motivation'. The deficiency motivated individual perceives reality in terms of mutually exclusive classes and concepts or 'dichotomies' - male/female, selfish/unselfish, adult/child, kind/cruel, good/bad and so on while the self-actualised individual has a perspective of reality in terms of the relatedness of parts and wholes i.e. 'holistic perception'.

Motivational type determines individual's perception of reality and the way in which they think about it... their 'worldview'.

Culture of consumerism depends on education which engages motivation of deficiency... 'deficit motivation' The culture of consumerism depends on education which engages motivation by deficiency of needs or 'deficit motivation'... and its characteristically dichotomous perception of reality. In the traditional paradigm of task-oriented education - education as instruction - requirements are set for meeting the 'needs of society'. The accepted form of motivation is reflected in the carrot and stick approach to pedagogy - first learn the skills and get the education, then you can get the job. Good grades mean a good education, good education means a good job and a good job means good money and material comfort or 'happiness'. This is the official pedagogy which engages motivation for external goals or 'extrinsic motivation' and dominates by disempowering students. Students are expected to depend on external motivating devices such as tests, rewards, grades, promises of future jobs etc. The dependency on extrinsic motivation denies the experience of motivation while learning... learning in the here and now 'experiential learning' or 'brain-based learning'.

Denial of motivation based on human needs - 'intrinsic motivation' - results in alienation from one's own experience and ultimately to declining motivation or 'demotivation' which is the 'problem of motivation'.

The problem of motivation is related to 'values of apitalism' The 'problem of motivation' at the heart of the so-called 'educational crisis' represents a general moral and spiritual crisis... a crisis of perception or 'paradigm'. As a 'paradigm crisis' the educational crisis is part of a general cultural crisis and must be analysed in its social or 'cultural context'. The problem of motivation in education is a politial problem which is connected with the economic theories and 'values of capitalism'. In a capitalist society motivation for learning is encouraged to coincide with a perception of the social environment in terms of what is 'threatening' and what is 'useful'. The encouragement of motivation for extrinsic reward is conscious 'extrinsic motivation'.

Cultures of capitalism as 'consumerism' which focus on the economy and ignore human needs encourage the cultural norm of 'adult immaturity' and its characteristic motivation  by deficiency of human needs or 'deficit motivation'.

"The official pedagogy is motivating students against intellectual work...  Students refuse to perform and the resulting power stru ggle (students vs. teachers and administration) leads a stalemate in schools - called student m'ediocrity'."(Paulo Freire Politics of Education p 5)

Implications for education  Learning is meaningful when it is based on the intrinsic motives for learning or 'human needs'. Intrinsically motivated learning engages the psychological function of human creativeness and productivity or 'work'. Meaningful work engages personality development in all its interrelated aspects... physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, moral, spiritual i.e. 'holistic education'. Holistic education is education for personal development in the context of 'personal freedom' or 'inner freedom'. The teacher's role is described as 'facilitator of learning'. The facilitative teacher utilises teaching methodologies which allow the learner to organize their learning experiences so that they become opportunities for personal development. Material is presented in terms of a focal point or 'theme' - the method of 'thematic teaching'. Thematic teaching enhances motivation because it engages the learner's real interest in the learning activities so that motivation becomes linked with 'self-empowerment'.

Self-empowerment is a function of optimal motivation characteristic of the balanced personality with developed 'moral consciousness' or 'conscience'.

"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.)


  spontaneous interest is CRUCIAL FOR MOTIVATION Traditional teaching methods effectively ruin the crucial factor for motivation towards effective learning and that is the individual's spontaneous interest. Ignorance of the validity of spontaneous interest results in the failure to recognize the learning potential of intrinsic motivation. Failure to acknowledge the potential of intrinsic motivation creates a gap between knowledge and personal growth. Since complete growth of the individual involves emotional, psychological and moral development as well as intellectual achievement, the failure to validate the individual's spontaneous interest leads either to incompetence or incapacity.